SRINAGAR: Tensions are on the rise in Kashmir Valley following the killing of three civilians, allegedly by security forces during counterinsurgency operations, within a week, prompting violent anti-India and pro-freedom protests.

The killing of two women in Shopian and Handwara, and a young driver in Kupwara district, has brought the Valley on the edge yet again with the separatists calling for shutdown and the government responding with curfews and restrictions.

Officials admit that the renewed phase of violence, strikes and restrictions doesn’t bode well for the state government which was expecting a 'return of peace' to the troubled region and a ‘massive footfall of tourists' during summers.

“When the pot is kept boiling in winters, it translates into anger on the streets during summers. While we are going full throttle to attract more tourists to Kashmir during this winter and coming summer, the situation in no way is helping us,” a senior officer in tourism department told The Citizen.

Amid a separatist-sponsored shutdown call, curfew-like restrictions were imposed in parts of Kashmir yesterday, the Hurriyat Conference leaders were put under house arrest while a member of state legislature was detained to foil protests against civilians killings.

With three civilian killings in eight days spiking tensions and anger across the valley, separatists had asked the people to observe a complete shutdown while the government responded by cancelling exams and restrictions were imposed to foil the protests.

Officials and witnesses said a moderate to complete shutdown was observed in the Valley, including in Shopian district where a 24-year-old woman, Rubina Jan alias Beauty, who left behind an 11-month-old toddler, was killed when a bullet hit her inside her home on Tuesday during clashes between security forces and protesters.

In a statement, the J&K police said the deceased was killed in “cross-fire” while the family of the victim said she was at her home when a bullet hit her at around 11 am, “She was inside her home. The militants were already dead by that time. The police is lying to shield the killers,” a family member of the woman, said, wishing anonymity.

The Hurriyat Conference also dismissed the “cross-fire” theory, “No Kashmiri is ready to tolerate this genocide silently and no stone will be left unturned to stop these brutalities,” the Hurriyat leaders said, adding that some days back, a poor lady Misra Bano was “targeted with bullets at Handwara and the killers and their abettors tried to cover it up by putting the blame on cross-firing.”

Bano and a driver, Asif Iqbal, were killed last week in north Kashmir with their families blaming the government forces for their death.

According to reports, a complete shutdown was also observed in the summer capital Srinagar where all shops, educational institutions and businesses were closed yesterday while public transport was also limited. Authorities also suspended the railway service between Banihal and Baramulla to prevent any law and order problems.

Accompanied by his supporters who were shouting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, Sheikh Abdul Rashid, the firebrand independent legislator from Langate constituency, was yesterday stopped by police from meeting the family of Rubina Jan in Shopian’s Batmuran village and taken into custody when he refused to obey the police orders.

Veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani and moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq were put under house-arrest by the authorities while as the JKLF chief Yasin Malik remains in jail after his arrest last week.

“Placed under #HouseArrest again, while the inhuman brutal killings of #Kashmiris including our young women continue and the collaborators who preside over them sing paeans of their masters!” Mirwaiz tweeted.

According to the information tabled by the Centre in the parliament, as many as 318 people, including 203 militants and 75 forces personnel were killed in militancy-related incidents in Jammu and Kashmir this year, the highest in last seven years.

The information reveals that up to December 14 this year, 337 violent incidents were reported in the state in which 321 persons were also injured. Ninety-one militants were also arrested during this period, the Lok Sabha was informed yesterday