Kashmir Tense, Internet Services Snapped
SRINAGAR: Mobile internet has been suspended and curfew-like restrictions are in place in parts of Kashmir Valley to ensure calm following the killing of four civilians by security forces in less than 24 hours.
A complete shutdown is being observed in the Valley, including the summer capital Srinagar and clashes have been reported from parts of Kupwara, Ganderbal and Baramulla for the third consecutive day against the killings involving the Army's 21 Rashtriya Rifles.
A senior police officer said additional police and paramilitary forces have been deployed in Srinagar outside the residence of JKLF chief Yasin Malik to thwart any protests. Separatist groups have called for 'civil curfew' today to protest the "cold blooded murders".
"Mobile internet was partially blocked in north Kashmir but the ban was extended to whole Kashmir on Wednesday night to prevent any law and order situation. We are monitoring the situation closely," the officer said.
Malik was arrested and lodged in a police station three days back while other separatist leaders including veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani and moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq continue to remain under house-arrest for third consecutive day.
Earlier in the day, police detained senior moderate Hurriyat leader and brother of BJP's ally Sajad Lone, Bilal Gani Lone, along with several other activists of the amalgam who were on their way to Handwara.
Amid simmering tensions, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti Thursday met BJP president Amit Shah in the national capital and the issue of civilian killings was also discussed, sources said.
She has been camping over the last two days in the national capital where she met the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and raised the issue of civilians killings with the union defence minister Manohar Parrikar. The CM returned to Srinagar today.
In an unprecedented move, the ruling party MLA and prominent PDP leader, Abdul Haq Khan, was deployed by the chief minister in Kupwara district since the incident took place. According to an official spokesperson, Haq visited the families of the victims on Wednesday evening and assured them that the guilty would be punished.
This is perhaps for the first time in many years that a ruling party member, who is also the minister of law in Mehbooba's cabinet, has been reported visiting the families who have become victims of forces' highhandedness, a forte traditionally held by separatists.
The minister interacted with the members of the civil society and urged them to help restore normalcy in the town. "Haq said the Chief Minister, Ms Mehbooba Mufti has already taken up the matter at the highest level in the Government of India and action will be taken against the forces personnel," the spokesperson said.
However, the opposition National Conference Thursday lashed out at the state government for "shocking mishandling" of the situation. A National Conference spokesman claimed that the chief minister's absence from the state resulted in the further escalation of the situation.
Meanwhile, accusing vested interests of attempting to destabilise the state, a Kashmiri Pandit body Thursday called for a probe, involving separatists, to unearth the facts of the incident.
Condemning the incident, Kashmir Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS) president Sanjay Tickoo said the Army should have exhibited restraint while dealing with "mob situations".
“KPSS also urges State Government to do a time-bound probe through an independent agency involving members jointly from unionist and separatist factions and the same as soon as possible and fix the responsibility so that the guilty is punished,” Tickoo said.