The Kashmir Valley remained calm on Wednesday for the first time in the past week, amid strict curfew restrictions, a strike in other parts of the region, and a flag march in Baramulla.
Curfew was clamped in Anantnag, where three youths were killed on Tuesday in police firing. Additional police and CRPF personnel were deployed in the town and adjoining areas to prevent people from taking to the streets. Journalists were also not allowed to enter the town.
Restrictions were enforced in the neighbouring Kulgam and Pulwama districts as well. Some groups of youth who engaged the police in stone throwing in the Sangam and Dialgiam areas were later dispersed.
“The situation is so tense that we cannot relax the curfew as of now,” Anantnag Deputy Commissioner Jaipal Singh said late in the evening. “We will review the situation tomorrow.”
On the directions of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, a team of senior political leaders, including Education Minister Peerzada Sayeed and Lok Sabha MP Mehboob Beg, is camping in the town to monitor the situation.
Mr. Abdullah on Tuesday asked the people not to take the law into their hands and to cooperate with the security forces in enforcing curfew.
The government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the killing of the three youths. An official spokesman said that the Assistant Commissioner (Revenue) of Anantnag would conduct the inquiry and submit his report.
In north Kashmir, Baramulla and Sopore also remained under curfew even as people tried to take out processions in several places. The Army later conducted a flag march in Baramulla. Bandipore town was also tense but no major incident was reported.
Srinagar city, however, remained calm with no curfew but tough restrictions imposed in the downtown areas. Private transport operated in the civil lines area, but shops remained closed. Two stray incidents of stone throwing were reported.
Several NGOs have expressed concern over the situation in Kashmir.
The Delhi-based ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy) expressed shock and anguish over the killing of nine young boys in the last two weeks.
It said the Valley had seen a sharp escalation of “police and paramilitary atrocities, leading to many deaths and injuries.”
“Scores of youngsters and innocent people have been killed. Even a brazen case of yet another fake encounter at the hands of a rogue Army official has come to light. These acts of brutality, in complete violation of the law of the land and constitutional rights of the people, have resulted in mass outrage and alienation of large sections of the civilian population in Kashmir,” Tanveer Hussain Khan, Shabnam Hashmi, Mansi Sharma and Seema Duhan said in a statement on behalf of ANHAD.
“These are unarmed, non-violent citizens, who are being treated with such blatant and indiscriminate use of military force — why? Is there no other way to negotiate with civil unrest? And what is the root cause of this civil unrest if not the basic premise of police and paramilitary brutality? And what about cases of atrocities committed on people who are not even protesting?”
ANHAD expressed serious concern over the absolute apathy and lack of political initiative displayed by the UPA-led Central government in response to the situation in the Valley.
“They should learn some lessons from history. People cannot be won over or suppressed at gunpoint. Certainly, the people of Jammu and Kashmir deserve a more rational, humane, visionary and sensitive response from the Indian state,” the statement said.