Curfew continues in Kashmir for second day - GulfToday

Curfew continues in Kashmir for second day

Curfew

Indian paramilitary troopers during a one-day strike in downtown Srinagar. Agence France-Presse

Curfew continued for the second day on Friday in tension-ridden Bhaderwah town of Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district, even as police denied cow vigilantes were behind the murder of a local resident.

Officials said there would be no relaxation in the curfew yet.

Police said five people have been detained for questioning in connection with the murder but rebutted media reports that ‘cow vigilantes’ had killed Nayeem Shah when he was transporting livestock early on Thursday.

“Some media channels are wrongly reporting murder of a person in Bhaderwah as incident of an alleged killing by cow vigilantes. Such irresponsible reporting is strongly rebutted as no such information has been confirmed during the investigation so far. Neither the accused are identified nor the motive of killing is known so far.

“Such reporting which has got law and order implications is rebutted.” The Army was called to assist the civil administration maintain law and order as clashes erupted between two groups over the murder.

Apart from the curfew, authorities have also suspended mobile Internet services to prevent spread of inflammatory posts and pictures online.

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who belongs to Bhaderwah, has appealed people to maintain communal harmony.

A separatist-called protest shutdown on Friday over civilian deaths during an anti-terror operation found support in the valley as shops, public transport, businesses and educational institutions remained closed here in the city and other places in Jammu and Kashmir.

Nine people comprising five militants, two civilians and two soldiers were killed in two gunfights in the valley.

The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik had called for the shutdown alleging loss of innocent Kashmiri lives at the hand of security agencies.

Authorities ordered the closure of schools and colleges to prevent any untoward incidents. Post graduate entrance test scheduled for the day was also postponed by the University of Kashmir.

Heavy deployments of police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been made at all vulnerable places in Srinagar and other districts.

Tension in Muslim-majority Kashmir has been high since the suicide bomb attack by the JeM militant group killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave troops a “free hand” to respond to the attack, and near-daily searches in villages in Kashmir since then have often triggered violent confrontations, with civilians caught in crossfire to the alarm of rights groups.

Modi’s tough response to the bomb attack, which included an air strike against what India said was a militant camp in Pakistan, is believed to have given his party a boost in a general election that began on April 11 and ends on May 19.

JEM leaders were killed in a gun battle in Dalipora, a village in south Kashmir, where clashes began between the militant group and Indian soldiers in the early hours, while Hizbul Mujahideen militants were killed in a separate clash in the Handew area of south Kashmir’s Shopian district.

Villagers said a civilian, who they identified as Rayees Ahmad Dar, 32, was killed after Indian soldiers sent him to search a house where militants were believed to be hiding. Villagers in the area have complained before about the army using civilians in searches.

A police spokesman said Dar was killed in indiscriminate firing by the militants and denied he had been sent on a search. After the clash, villagers threw rocks at security forces, who responded with teargas, while lawyers in the state’s high court went on strike in protest over Dar’s death.

Police said seven people had been arrested and a curfew imposed on a town in the region after a Muslim man transporting horses was shot dead, allegedly by a Hindu group wanting to protect the rights of cows, which they consider sacred.

Yasir Hussain told Reuters he was one of three men confronted overnight by the group on the outskirts of Bhaderwah.

“They alleged that we are cow smugglers, but I directed my torch towards the horses,” he said. “They fired at us and we fled.” Kashmir is at the heart of decades of hostility between India and Pakistan. The nuclear-armed neighbours both claim it in full but rule it in part.

Agencies