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Complete Shutdown in Kashmir After ‘Bloody Sunday’

Zubair Sofi |
For the first time, Kashmiri Pandit organisation backs JRL protest call against civilian killings, urges Centre to ‘knock’ separatists’ door for peaceful solution.
Kashmir Bandh

Image for representational use only. Image Courtesy: Greater Kashmir

The ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Kashmir that left 16 people dead, including seven civilians, is witnessing a complete shutdown on Monday in the valley on the call by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), with all shops, business establishments, educational institutes, private and government offices closed

For the first time, the Kashmir Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS) also expressed their support to the shutdown call against  the ‘bloodshed’ in South Kashmir’s Kulgam.

Speaking to NewsClick , Sanjay Tickoo, President of KPSS, which represents Pandit families living in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) said that the way authorities were dealing with the situation will lead to more bloodshed in Kashmir.

Tickoo said the Central government with the help of J&K authorities must knock the door of separatist leaders and try to find the solution of this ongoing conflict peacefully, adding that civilian killings, mostly youth, is the biggest loss of society.

On Monday, curfew-like restrictions were imposed in downtown old city Srinagar. According to the officials, there was heavy deployment of forces in sensitive areas of Kashmir to prevent the protests.    

Local train service from Banihal to Baramulla was suspended and mobile internet service was blocked by the authorities for the second consecutive day in South Kashmir.

On Sunday morning, an encounter broke out between government forces and militants in Laroo village of South Kashmir’s Kulgam district.

As per reports, a joint team of nine battalions of Rashtriya Rifles, CRPF, Special Officers Group of police cordoned off the village. Soon after they established contact with the militants, a gunfight broke out.

Almost immediately after the gunfight had started, a protest by the locals broke out near the encounter site. They were reportedly trying to help the militants escape the cordon. To disperse the protestors, security forces used tear gas shells, and the protesters responded by stone-pelting, leading to clashes.

According to reports, during the initial exchange of fire, two from the troops were injured and were immediately rushed to the hospital.

During the clashes, two civilians were killed by live ammunition allegedly used by the government forces. The dead civilians have been identified as Ubaid Ahmad Laway s/o Mohammad Maqbool Laway, Aqib Ahmad Sheikh s/o Gul Mohammad Sheikh, both residents of Kulgam.

Three local militants were also killed during the encounter. As per police officials’, the militants were identified as Zubair Lone, son of Farooq Ahmad resident of Awhatoo Kulgam, who was said to be associated with Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), Shahdil Tantray, son of Abdul Rashid, resident of Sudershanpora Wangam in Shopian and Yazil Makro, son of Mushtaq, a resident of Arwani in Anantnag.

According to an eyewitness, after the encounter had ended and government forces withdrew from the spot, residents went to clear the debris from the encounter site, which is when an explosive device blew up. The explosion claimed the life of five civilians. A few of them died on the spot while the others succumbed to their injuries in hospital.

Hospital sources identified the civilians as Uzair Ahmad s/o Mansoor Ahmad, Talib Maqbool s/o Mohammad Maqbool, Tajamul Ahmad, Irshad Ahmad, Hujar Ahmad.

Reacting to the civilian killings in Kashmir, the JRL asked people to observe a complete shutdown on Monday.

Senior JRL leader, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq tweeted: “To strongly condemn & protest the mayhem unleashed in Kulgam by the ruthless Indian state in which so far 5 civilians & 3-armed youth killed besides injuries to tens of scores of injured, JRL calls for complete #Shutdown tomorrow, JRL will hold a #ProtestSitin on Tuesday at Lal Chowk.”  He tweeted when the number of the civilian casualties were five.

In a joint statement, advisor to the J&K Governor, K Vijay Singh, and Director General of Police, Dilbagh Singh, expressed deep pain and regret over the killings of civilians near the encounter site. They also urged residents not to go to such sites before these are sanitised.

Incidentally, in their statement, the KPSS expressed concern over the ‘casual’ attitude of the security forces.

“It is mandatory for security forces to sanitise the area where encounter happens to safeguard the lives of the civilians. It seems that the security forces take these basic things casually, which resulted in today’s incident in which 6 civilians got killed and nearly 43 sustained injuries.”

Another encounter took place near the Line of Control (LoC) at Sunderbani sector of Rajouri in Jammu region. Three army men, two militants were killed during the gunfight.    

An Army spokesperson told Greater Kashmir, a local newspaper, that the Indian army had a fierce encounter with heavily armed militants very close to the LoC in Sunderbani sector at about 1:45 PM.

“The patrol killed two intruders and recovered warlike stores including two AK-47 rifles,” he said. “Immediate reaction from other posts effectively cordoned the area and the search and destroy operation is in progress.”

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