Kashmir remains on edge; policeman killed, toll reaches 21

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Kashmir continued to be on the boil with six more people, including a cop, getting killed in violence today, raising the death toll to 21, even as curfew- like restrictions were in force and Mobile internet services remained suspended.
Amarnath Yatra also remained suspended for the second day from Jammu due to the Kashmir unrest in which over 200 people, many of them police and security personnel, have been injured. However, the yatra from the base camps in Kashmir continued.
The Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet, headed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, met and expressed anguish over the situation and the death of civilians in clashes with security forces in the aftermath of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
The government promised to investigate if there was any instance of disproportionate use of force by security forces even as it appealed to the people not to become tools in the machinations of instigators of violence. Cabinet also appealed to separatists, including Hurriyat Conference, as well as mainstream political parties like National Conference, Congress and CPI(M) to help restore normalcy “if they want peace in the state”.
In Delhi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the situation that has developed in Kashmir and spoke to Mehbooba Mufti, assuring her of all possible help. The state police also urged protesters not to resort to violence, saying it does not bring the right consequences, and that it would like to avoid the killing of the youth.
Even as curfew-like restrictions remained in force, violence was reported from a number of places. One person was killed this evening in reported firing by security forces in Tengpora in Srinagar, marking the first death in the capital city.
An 18-year-old youth Irfan Ahmad Malik was critically injured in clashes between protestors and security forces at Newa in Pulwama this morning, a police official said. He was rushed to SMHS hospital here but succumbed to injuries. An unidentified person was brought to district hospital Pulwama in a critical condition but succumbed to injuries, he said, adding efforts are on to ascertain his identity.
A police driver Feroz Ahmad was killed after a mob pushed his mobile bunker vehicle into river Jhelum at Sangam in Anantnag district, the official said. Efforts were on to fish out the body of the deceased cop.
One more civilian was killed in a clash with security forces while another, who was injured yesterday, succumbed to injuries today, police said.
In another incident, a head constable of police was shot in both legs by militants last night at his residence in Tral area of Pulwama district, the official said. Three policemen, who went missing after a large mob attacked a police station in Damhal Hanjipora yesterday, are still untraceable, said state Education Minister Naeem Akhtar, who is the government spokesman.
One more police post was burnt by some mobs today. Kashmir continued to be on the boil with five more people, including a cop, getting killed in violence today, raising the death toll to 20, even as curfew- like restrictions were in place and Mobile internet services remained suspended.
Amarnath Yatra also remained suspended for the second day owing to the unrest in the valley in which over 200 people, many of them police and security personnel, have been injured. The Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet, headed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, met and expressed anguish over the situation and the death of civilians in clashes with security forces following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
The government promised to investigate if there was any instance of disproportionate use of force by security forces even as it appealed to the people not to become tools in the machinations of instigators of violence. Cabinet also appealed to separatists, including Hurriyat Conference, as well as mainstream political parties like National Conference, Congress and CPI(M) to help restore normalcy “if they want peace in the state”.
In Delhi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the situation that has developed in Kashmir and spoke to Mehbooba Mufti, assuring her of all possible help. The state police also urged protesters not to resort to violence, saying it does not bring the right consequences, and that it would like to avoid the killing of the youth.
Even as curfew-like restrictions remained in force, violence was reported from a number of places. An 18-year-old youth Irfan Ahmad Malik was critically injured in clashes between protestors and security forces at Newa in Pulwama this morning, a police official said. He was rushed to SMHS hospital here but succumbed to injuries.
An unidentified person was brought to district hospital Pulwama in a critical condition but succumbed to injuries, he said, adding efforts are on to ascertain his identity. A police driver Feroz Ahmad was killed after a mob pushed his mobile bunker vehicle into river Jhelum at Sangam in Anantnag district, the official said. Efforts were on to fish out the body of the deceased cop.
One more civilian was killed in a clash with security forces while another, who was injured yesterday, succumbed to injuries today, police said. In another incident, a head constable of police was shot in both legs by militants last night at his residence in Tral area of Pulwama district, the official said.
Three policemen, who went missing after a large mob attacked a police station in Damhal Hanjipora yesterday, are still untraceable, state Education Minister Naeem Akhtar said. One more police post was burnt by some mobs today. Three youth were injured in security forces firing when a mob attacked a police post in Achabal area of Anantnag district with stones, the official said.
Another youth was injured when he was hit by firearm in Pampore town on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway today. At least six other persons were hospitalised with minor injuries at various places in south Kashmir, which as seen widespread protests following the killing of Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces in Kokernag area on Friday.
Four persons, who were injured in the violent clashes yesterday, succumbed to injuries during the night.
As per consolidated information, over 200 people including 96 security personnel were injured in the clashes since yesterday while the mobs set on fire police installations, three civil administration offices, the house of a PDP MLA, several vehicles and targeted a BJP office.
The violence continued today despite restrictions imposed in most of Kashmir Valley, including many areas of Srinagar city and four districts of south Kashmir. The separatist-sponsored strike, which was extended for two more days yesterday, also affected normal life in Kashmir.
Shops, private offices, business establishments and petrol pumps were shut, while government offices and banks witnessed thin attendance, officials said. They said public transport was completely off the roads, while cars and auto-rickshaws were seen plying at few places where there were no restrictions.
Educational institutions in the Valley were closed on account of the ongoing summer vacations.
Meanwhile, Central University of Kashmir (CUK), Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) and Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education (JKBOSE) have postponed the examinations due to the prevailing situation in the Valley.
Chief Minister, while appealing for calm, has urged the Centre to reach out to the people of the state to resolve the issues confronting them through reconciliation efforts on internal as well as external front for ending the violence that has left behind a trail of death and destruction.
“The pain of Kashmiris has reached a level where the hope of peace is sure to gain substantial local support if tangible confidence building measures are taken to address the issues concerning the state and its people,” Mehbooba said in a statement issued last night.
She said the people of Jammu and Kashmir, irrespective of their age, gender, status or the political affiliation, have been suffering the terrible consequences of the pernicious turmoil over the last more than two decades. “They now want peace and stability to take roots, and even within the prevailing circumstances there lies an opportunity to consolidate the peace efforts, if substantial steps are taken in the right direction to positively impact the ground situation,” she said.
She stressed the urgency for reviving the peace and reconciliation initiatives, both on the internal and external fronts. Seeking people’s cooperation in stabilising peace, the Chief Minister said the government is responsive to the people’s needs and concerned about their problems and is working judiciously and in a transparent manner to fulfil their aspirations and expectations.
While reacting to the civilian deaths in security forces’ firing yesterday, Mehbooba had asked security forces to follow the standard operating procedures for crowd control and avoid disproportionate use of force. Urging for calm, Mehbooba sought people’s cooperation in restoration of normalcy in the Valley.
Violence only brings miseries to the people and tragedies for the victim families, she said.
The Chief Minister appealed to the people, especially the youth not to fall prey to the machinations of the vested interests, who play politics over the bodies of Kashmiris. In view of unrest, Amarnath yatra remained suspended for second consecutive day today from Jammu, with officials saying it will resumed when there is confidence about security of the pilgrims.
However, the yatra from the base camps in Kashmir is on, said Deputy Commissioner Jammu, Simrandeep Singh. 1,18,747 pilgrims have so far paid obeisance at the cave shrine in the mountains of south Kashmir. Mobile internet services across Kashmir remained suspended for the second day while mobile telephony was also snapped in south Kashmir areas.
The internal communication of the Police department has been badly affected as the wireless communication system, damaged during the 2014 floods, has not been fully restored, a police official said on condition of anonymity. “We were using mobile telephones for communication but that is not working at the moment,” he added.
The separatist leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq continue to be under house arrest while Mohammad Yasin Malik is also under preventive detention.

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