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Separatists’ strike disrupts normal life in Kashmir

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Srinagar, Oct 22: Normal life was disrupted in the Kashmir Valley Monday due to a strike called by the separatists over the death of seven civilians in a blast at an encounter site in Kulgam district.

Shops, private offices, fuel stations and other business establishments remained shut in the Srinagar city and all the major towns of the Valley while the public transport also remained off the roads. Very few private vehicles were seen plying in few areas of the city.

The strike affected attendance in government offices and banks as well.

Officials said there were no restrictions anywhere in the city, though police and paramilitary forces were deployed at several places here “as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order”.

Reports of shutdown were received from other district headquarters of the Valley as well.

Separatists had on Sunday called for a strike on Monday over the death of civilians in a blast at an encounter site in Laroo area of Kulgam district of south Kashmir.

The strike was called by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik.

Three militants were killed Sunday in the encounter, while seven civilians lost their lives in a blast following the gunfight there.

The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), a Kashmiri Pandit organisation – Kashmiri Pandit Sangarash Samiti (KPSS) – and All Kashmir Auto-Rickshaw Drivers Association had extended their support to the strike called by the separatists.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education (JKBOSE) and Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) postponed examinations scheduled for Monday.

Chenab valley areas of Jammu region also observed shutdown today.

Shops, business establishments and some private schools of Muslim community remained closed in Bhaderwah, Doda and Kishtwar. However, government schools, offices and banks functioned normally.

President Anjuman Islamia (AIB) Bhadarwah, Pervaiz Ahmed Sheikh who had announced support for the shutdown call said they can’t remain mute to civilian killings in Kashmir.

The highway town of Banihal in Ramban district and the markets located on the highway also observed a shutdown to mourn the killings.

Meanwhile, in Srinagar groups of youth fought pitched battles with the government forces in many areas throughout the day.

Severe clashes took place in Soura are in the city outskirts where hundreds of youth took to streets and threw stones at the police and paramilitary personnel. Government forces retaliated by firing dozens of tear-smoke shells. The clashes continued for hours together.

Similar clashes were also reported from Eidgah and some other areas of the city which continued till late in the evening.

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