Valley shuts against Kulgam killings
Srinagar, Apr 12: Authorities today imposed restrictions in parts of Srinagar and in Kulgam district even as the strike called by the separatists to protest the killing of four civilians near an encounter site yesterday disrupted normal life throughout the Valley.
Restrictions were imposed in Kulgam district of south Kashmir and parts of Srinagar downtown.
In Srinagar, curbs were imposed in five police station areas of the city — Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, Safakadal and Maharajgunj. Police said the restrictions were imposed as a “precautionary measure to maintain law and order”.
Four civilians were killed in clashes with government forces near the encounter site in Khudwani area of Kulgam yesterday. The militants managed to escape from the site and the operation was called off.
Separatists – Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik had called for a strike today to protest the civilian killings. They had also asked people across the Valley to stage protests in the afternoon and observe a blackout in the evening.
Meanwhile, the strike affected normal life throughout the Valley as most of the shops and other business establishments remained shut, while public transport was off the roads.
Authorities had ordered closure of schools and colleges in most parts of the Valley to thwart student protests. The Kashmir University and the Islamic University of Science and Technology had also suspended class-work today and also postponed all examinations scheduled for the day.
Mobile Internet services remained suspended in south Kashmir areas, while the network speed has been reduced in Srinagar. Train services between Baramulla and Bannihal towns were also suspended.
Meanwhile, protests and clashes also rocked some areas in the city and the countryside.
Groups of youth took to streets in Soura area of city outskirts and clashed with the government forces, who responded by firing tear-gas shells.
The students of National Institute of Technology (NIT) Srinagar held a sit-in protest at the campus against the killing of four civilians in Kulgam.
Holding placards, the protesting students called for upholding human rights of Kashmiris and putting an end to the use of pellet guns and other lethal weapons of crowd control.
“Kashmiris’ human rights ought to be respected in compliance with the international law,” said a protester.
The students of Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) Wadoora Sopore campus also staged a massive protest demonstration.
The students, including girls, gathered at the campus and raised pro-freedom and pro-militant slogans.
The protesters said that incidents like rape-and-murder of Asifa Bano in Kathua and killing of civilians were forcing youth to pick up gun and stones.
“It is high time that the Kashmir issue is resolved according to the aspirations of people here. Only then peace will prevail in the sub-continent,” said a protester.
Clashes also broke out between protesters and the government forces in Drugmulla and Bumhama areas of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
Reports said that youth took to streets and staged protests against the killing of four youth in forces’ action in Kulgam yesterday.
They said that police and paramilitary forces chased away the youth after vehicular movement was disrupted near Bumhama and Drugmulla due to the protests.
However, youth regrouped and clashed with the forces.
A police official said the situation was under control and the protesters were dispersed without using much force.
Reports of clashes between youths and government forces were also received from few areas in Handwara town.
Hundreds of people today held protests in Budgam township also against civilian killings in Kulgam.
Amidst pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, demonstrators assembled outside the Imam Bargah and condemned the killings.
Speaking on the occasion, president Anjuman Sharie Shian and senior Hurriyat leader Aga Syed Hassan paid tribute to the slain civilians.
While impressing upon world community that Kashmiris are not terrorists, Hassan said, “We are being forced to take up arms, because India has not given us the right to decide our future.”