Toll in violence reaches three as teenager dies of injuries; curfew and shutdown continue
Even as a critically injured youth died and the body of another youth was recovered from the Jhelum, there was no major confrontation between protesters and the police on the third day of curfew and shutdown in the Kashmir Valley on Monday.
The indefinite curfew imposed by the authorities and the four-day shutdown called by the two factions of the separatist Hurriyat Conference brought life to a standstill. There was little traffic. Governments and private offices, educational institutions, banks and business establishments remained closed.
Reports said low-intensity clashes occurred at 20 spots in Srinagar, Sopore, Baramulla and Anantnag. Even as residents claimed that scores of demonstrators, protesting against Afzal Guru’s execution and demanding his mortal remains for burial, sustained injuries in Monday’s clashes with police and Central Reserve Police Force personnel, officials insisted that none was injured as the forces did not open fire anywhere.
The Valley remained tense as a teenager, Obair Mushtaq, who was among the six protesters injured when CRPF personnel opened fire at Watirgam in the Baramulla-Sopore belt on Sunday died at a hospital. The body of another student, Zamir Ahmad Dar, was recovered from the Jhelum at Botwena in north Kashmir. He was among the six protesters who were drowned in the river allegedly during police action after a clash on Sunday. The body of another protester, Tariq Ahmad Bhat, was recovered immediately.
The bodies of Obair and Zamir were buried amid anti-India and pro-Azadi slogans at Watirgam and Botwena in Ganderbal on Monday. Reports said more than 2,000 people attended the funeral at each place.
Director-General of Police Ashok Prasad told The Hindu that the security forces were using only non-lethal weapons and were observing the maximum possible restraint while dealing with the crowds. “There’s indeed a pall of gloom and mourning in the entire Valley,” Mr. Prasad said. However, the damage of the two seasons of street demonstration was fresh in everybody’s mind. Until Monday, there had been no indication of an anarchical situation. “There’s no major violation of curfew. Nobody has resorted to throwing stones on ambulances and civilian vehicles, or arson,” he said.
A group of JKLF activists staged a demonstration to commemorate Maqbool Bhat, whose 29th death anniversary was observed on Monday. Bhat was hanged this day in 1984 in Tihar Jail. The police dispersed the group with a mild baton charge.
The operation of the Srinagar–Muzaffarabad bus service was the only positive news. Even the Baramulla-Qazigund rail service has been shut.
News channels blocked
On the third day, Internet services remained disrupted and the cable television news channels shut. The networks operated only the entertainment and sports channels as the authorities have frozen all local and satellite news channels. Only DTH services and data cards of some Internet service providers are functional. Publication and circulation of all newspapers remained shut under “informal orders” from the authorities for the second day.
Meanwhile, people in many areas complained of non-availability of ambulances, medicines and essential items. Residents of several villages in the Sopore-Rafiabad belt complained that the forces roughed up pedestrians, barged into houses and harassed the inmates.