Kashmir in Spiral of Violence, No Sign of "Normalcy"
SRINAGAR: A partial to complete shutdown is being observed in the valley where government forces yesterday shot dead a 22-year-old boy in north Kashmir's Baramulla district.
Despite orders of the chief minister Mehbooba Mufti as well as the union home minister Rajnath Singh to exercise "maximum restraint" while dealing with protesters, forces went on a rampage across the valley on Friday, causing injuries to over 100 protesters.
In north Kashmir's Baramulla district, forces shot and killed Waseem Ahmad Lone in a paddy field in Nadihal village. The incident has heightened tensions after few days of relative calm in Kashmir, mounting the toll of deceased in the ongoing uprising to 88.
"An Army convoy was passing along the road while we were working. Suddenly some shots rang and I saw Waseem fall down. He was in a pool of blood. We took him to hospital but doctors said he was dead already," one of the men working alongside Waseem in the field said, wishing anonymity.
An Army spokesman in Srinagar said they are "investigating the incident".
Amid anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, thousands of people attended the last rites of the slain youth at his native village on Saturday with his father, a teacher, leading the prayers at a school ground following which the slain youth was laid to rest.
In many places across Kashmir yesterday, forces fired pellets indiscriminately at protesters to foil freedom marches called by the unified Hurriyat leadership who are urging India and Pakistan to start a dialogue for "permanent settlement" of Kashmir issue.
At the historic Chrar-i-Sharief town in central Kashmir, which had remained largely peaceful over the last 78 days of unrest, police and paramilitary forces fired pellets to disperse a group of youth who tried to take out a freedom rally.
"Six persons were admitted to the hospital with pellet injuries of which two were referred to Srinagar in a critical state. One of them has severe pellet injuries in his face and chest," a doctor at SDH Chrar-i-Sharief where the victims were brought for treatment, said.
The escalation in violence comes despite the assurances of the home minister Rajnath Singh that the region will return to normalcy in seven days; there has been little change on the ground with the authorities grappling to restore inter-district connectivity.
According to a PTI report on September 11, Mr Singh had asked for "normalcy to be restored within a week in Kashmir; school and other educational institutions should function as students are worst sufferers during the prolonged turmoil".
However, the government as well as private educational institutions continue to remain shut while as shops and other business establishments continue to observe strike while public transport remains off roads on the call of the Hurriyat.
(Photographs Basit Zargar)