Curfew continues for 5th day across Valley; toll reaches 36

SRINAGAR: The Kashmir Valley was calm but large areas were under strict curfew for a fifth day on Wednesday, even as two more persons wounded in street clashes died here, taking the death toll to 36.

Curfew continues for 5th day across Valley; toll reaches 36

A Paramilitary soilder stands guard in curfew-bound downtown area of Srinagar city on Wednesday. — Tribune photo: Amin War

Srinagar, July 13

The Kashmir Valley was calm but large areas were under strict curfew for a fifth day on Wednesday, even as two more persons wounded in street clashes died here, taking the death toll to 36 in the violence triggered by the death of a top Hizbul commander, Burhan Wani, five days ago.

Government officials said two civilians, who had received bullet injuries in clashes with security forces, succumbed early on Wednesday.

A strict curfew was in place in large parts of the Valley as the state observed "Martyrs' Day" to remember Kashmiris killed in police firing on protesters marching against the Dogra rule on July 13, 1931.

Despite relative calm in the Valley on Tuesday, clashes occurred between the security forces and unruly mobs at more than three dozen places.

A mob attacked a police station in north Kashmir’s Kralpora town of Kupwara district on Tuesday.

The mob also torched a police vehicle there in which some policemen were trapped.

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To save the trapped policemen, security forces opened fire at the mob injuring 14 persons. One of the injured later succumbed to bullet injuries, police sources said.

In Awantipora town of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, a mob attacked the unguarded house of a police officer severely beating the officer’s wife and daughter.

“The mob also ransacked the house. The mother and daughter have been admitted to hospital for treatment,” a senior police officer said.

Another mob attacked a minority police picket in Tral town of the same district setting fire to the picket.

Policemen at the minority picket barely managed to save their lives and weapons.

In north Kashmir’s Ganderbal town, another unruly mob attacked the local district magistrate (DM) who miraculously escaped unhurt.

The DM had an armed escort of local policemen whom he ordered not to use firearms so that casualties to protesters are avoided.

The DM’s official vehicle was extensively damaged in the incident that occurred barely 200 metres away from the administrative complex in Ganderbal district.

Convoys of Amarnath yatra-bound pilgrims and tourists to and from north Kashmir’s Baltal base camp in Ganderbal district are escorted by mobile escorts and road opening parties (ROPs) for safety.

Both the road to the Baltal Yatra base camp and the highway connecting the Ladakh region with the Valley pass through Ganderbal district.

On Tuesday, 4,455 yatris had darshan in the cave shrine. So far this year, over 1.33 lakh yatris have performed the yatra, officials of the Shri Amarnath ji Shrine Board (SASB) said.

Another batch of pilgrims using 150 buses also reached the Valley from Jammu on Tuesday night.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti appealed for peace to end days of violence.

After returning from Africa, Modi chaired a high-level meeting and voiced concern over the incidents of violence in the Kashmir Valley.

In Srinagar, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti described the situation in Kashmir as “a matter of concern for all of us” and urged Kashmiri youths to show “patience and calm” at this “critical and sensitive” hour.

“Bloodshed will result in nothing. Life comes once. It is our duty to respect and appreciate this Godsend gift,” Mebooba said in a passionate appeal in Urdu.

Violence erupted in the Kashmir Valley after security forces killed Burhan Wani, the 22-year-old commander of Kashmir’s largest rebel group, Hizbul Mujahideen, and two associates in a village on Friday.

The killing of Wani, who had emerged as the new face of Kashmir’s militancy with his Facebook and other social media photos and videos, triggered a vicious cycle of protests by unruly mobs.

July 13 is a public holiday in the state in connection with the annual ‘Youm-e-Suhada’ (Martyrs’ Day) to remember those who were killed in an uprising against the Dogra autocratic rule in 1931. Separatist leaders, most of them under house arrest, have called for a march to the martyrs’ graveyard in the old city. — IANS

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