SRINAGAR: Tensions are on the rise in Kashmir following the killing of a youth last night in Kulgam district by the army during clashes. The Hurriyat had called for a complete shutdown tomorrow against the fresh civilian killings but postponed the call due to Mela Kheer Bhawani which will be celebrated by the minority Hindu community in Kashmir.

Reports said a complete shutdown is being observed in Kulgam district and its adjoining areas against the killing of Ajaz Ahmad Bhat in Nowpora village of Kulgam, the home of the ruling PDP's vice-president Sartaj Madni, when clashes broke out in the area last night.

Local witnesses and police sources said soldiers of an army patrol of 9 Rashtriya Rifles carried out random frisking of commuters and pedestrians in the village during which they seized mobile phones of some youth and asked them to show them photo galleries.

“When the youth resisted, an altercation broke out which soon turned into clashes. Youth pelted stones at the army who retaliated by opening fire at them, resulting in the killing of Ajaz and injury to another,” a resident of Nowpora said on condition of anonymity.

A video shot in the village during the time of the protests shows a group of youth being taken hostage by the army soldiers, apparently to stop protesters front pelting stones, “The clip went viral on social media which sparked more protests and clashes,” sources said.

This is the third civilian killing in Kashmir after the union home minister Rajnath Singh announced suspension of the unilateral ceasefire announced for the month of Ramazan as a confidence building measure. Soon after the announcement, a youth was killed after Eid prayers in Anantnag.

The Hurriyat had called for a complete strike tomorrow in Kashmir against the murder of senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari and the continuous civilian killings which “have witnessed a sudden spike since Eid as three young boys have been brutally gunned down by the Indian forces while the fourth (one) is struggling for life at SKIMS,” a statement issued by the Hurriyat said today.

“CASO has returned with a vengeance to the villages as people are being severely beaten and harassed and used as human shields. The strike will also be observed against the brutal killing of veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari,” said the statement while demanding an international probe into the “gruesome murder”.

The call for shutdown was withdrawn due to the Mela Kheer Bhawani festival which is being celebrated by the minority Hindu community tomorrow.

The Centre’s ceasefire offer was rejected by the Lashkar-e-Toiba outfit while the United Jihad Council chairman and chief of the Hizbul Mujahideen outfit Syed Salahudin had said they will discuss the offer which had brought some semblance of normalcy to the restive Kashmir.

Meanwhile, shutdown is also being observed in parts of south Kashmir's Pulwama district against the “arbitrary detention” of over dozen youth during nocturnal raids by a joint team of police, army and paramilitary troopers last night.

Seniot superintendent of Pulwama police, Mohammad Aslam said the youth have been detained from various parts of Pulwama in connection with a number of grenade attacks and stone pelting on security forces, “They are being questioned,” he said.

(Cover Photo: Basit Zargar)