SRINAGAR: As India celebrated its 70th Independence-Day on Monday, Kashmir remained under strict curfew with militants striking in the heart of Srinagar, killing a CRPF official and injuring nine other personnel.

“Militants attacked a camp near Nowhatta in downtown area injuring 10 security men including nine CRPF troopers," a police official said. While one of the critically injured CRPF personnel succumbed, condition of another injured paramilitary man is said to be critical.

“The militants are still holed up in the area and the firing is going on from both sides,” said the police official.

The attack, first of its kind in recent years, took place early this morning amid unprecedented security in place to ensure incident free Independence day.

While Kashmir continue to reel under curfew for the 38th straight day today after the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani, the clampdown was unprecedented on Sunday, the day separatists had called people to join the “referendum march”, and today as well.

Over 90 people were injured in action by security forces on protesters across Kashmir on Sunday - three of them in Army firing in Budgam. Separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was arrested by police outside his house to prevent him from leading march to Lal Chowk while Syed Ali Shah Geelani was stopped from coming out of his house to join the march. JKLF chairman Yasin Malik continues to remain in detention in Srinagar Central Jail.

As the encounter continued in Nowhatta, the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, in her I-Day speech denounced use of arms by “all sides” even as she asked the leadership of India and Pakistan to come together for lasting peace and development in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Whether it is militants' guns or ours, gun can't resolve any issue,” Mehbooba Mufti said in her 55-minute speech at Bakshi Stadium which was the main venue for the function in J&K.

With her government facing criticism for the ongoing unrest in Kashmir in which 58 people have been killed in firing by the forces and over 5000 left injured, Mehbooba said the dialogue was the only way to resolve the issue.

“If this (dialogue) can't give us any solution, then no gun can get us justice… The fault is not with people of Jammu and Kashmir but the problem has been with the leadership. The entire national leadership from Jawaharlal Nehru's time till today and political parties are responsible for situation in Jammu and Kashmir," said the Chief Minister as she expressed optimism that the present Modi-led Government in the center would take initiatives for lasting peace in Kashmir.

(Cover Photograph by Basit Zargar)