KULGAM KILLINGS: SHUTDOWN, MOURNING

KULGAM KILLINGS: SHUTDOWN, MOURNING

Curbs, clashes in Downtown; Forces allegedly ransack seminary in Hyderpora; Chenab Valley shuts too; Srinagar schools, colleges to remain closed; KU postpones exams; Restrictions in city areas today: Police

A complete shutdown was observed across Kashmir on Monday against killing of seven civilians in southern Kulgam district, even as massive clashes broke out in various parts of Srinagar and elsewhere in the Valley. The police had imposed stringent curbs in parts of Downtown, fearing protests and clashes, while top resistance leaders were either confined to their homes or “taken into preventive custody.”

The call for shutdown was given by the Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik against killing of six civilians in a blast at a gunfight site in Laroo village in Kulgam. Another youth was reportedly killed in firing by forces on protesters, while dozens of youth had sustained injuries in the forces’ action. Three local Jaish-e-Muhammad militants were also killed in the gunfight. The JRL call evoked a complete response as normal life came to a grinding halt across Kashmir. Srinagar’s commercial hub LalChowk wore a deserted look as shops and educational institutions remained closed for the day, while traffic was off the roads. The JRL has also called for a LalChowk march on Tuesday against the Kulgam tragedy.

CURBS, CLASHES 

Government forces imposed stringent curbs in various parts of Downtown to thwart possible protests against Kulgam killings. 

A witness said that spools of concertina wire were placed on roads to block movement of people in various parts of Downtown and prevent large gatherings.  Another witness said massive clashes broke out between youth and forces at Soura, 90-feet road and SafaKadal areas of Srinagar.  “Youth resorted to massive stone pelting on the forces, who responded with firing tear gas and pava shells to disperse the protestors,” he said. 

Clashes also broke out near railway bridge, Wanabal and Rangreth in the morning and were on till late evening.   

Clashes were also witnessed in HabbaKadal area where people also offered funeral prayers in absentia for Kulgam civilians. 

Funeral prayers in absentia were also offered in Mehjoor Nagar area. 

A witness said soon after withdrawal of forces, massive clashes broke out across Downtown. The forces resorted to firing of pepper and pava shells to disperse the protestors. 

“Entire Downtown was covered under thick smoke of tear-gas, pepper and pava shells fired indiscriminately by forces in the evening,” said Umar Rashid, a resident of Eidgah. 

He alleged that a youth was beaten up by forces at Waniyar, Rathpora and “developed fracture in his leg.”

Late evening reports said that forces allegedly attacked a seminary-cum-orphanage—AshrafulUloom—at Hyderpora and fired dozens of teargas shells into its premises, evoking strong resentment from people.

A witness said forces also beat up Haji Abdur Rashid Shah, and Mufti Showkat who leads prayers at nearby Masjid Ibrahim, while Bilal Ahmed Mir, son of Ali Muhammad Mir—a staffer at the seminary—was taken away by police. 

Furious over the forces’ action, Ghulam Ahmad Laigroo, president coordination committee (IG Road) announced a complete shutdown in the area on Tuesday.

MALIK GOES INTO HIDING 

While senior resistance leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq continue to remain under house detention, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Muhammad Yasin Malik, who was released recently after 20-day detention, has gone into hiding. 

Malik, according to a JKLF source, will lead a protest march against Kulgam civilian killings at LalChowk on Tuesday. 

Other resistance leaders including Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Muhammad Ashraf Laya, engineer Hilal War, Javaid Ahmad Mir and others have either been detained or lodged in various police stations ahead of JRL’s call for LalChowk march.

SOUTH, NORTH

Amid heavy deployment and curbs imposed by forces in Kulgam, thousands of people Monday flooded the houses of seven civilians killed in the district on Sunday to express their solidarity with the bereaved families. Witnesses said Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian, Anantnag, Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora districts observed a complete shutdown on the JRL call. In Sopore town, amid complete shutdown, a group of protesters pelted stones at the police who fired several tear smoke shells to disperse them, a witness said. 

Shutdown was also observed in other parts of Baramulla district including Rafiabad, Tangmarg, Wagoora, Kreeri, Uri and Boniyar.

CHENAB VALLEY SHUTS TOO 

Normal life was affected in Bhadarwah, Doda, Thathri and Kishtwar towns of Chenab Valley on Monday due to a shutdown call given by the Anjuman-e-IslamiaBhadarwah, Seerat Committee Doda, Jamia Masjid Committee Thathri and Majlis-e-ShouraKishtwar to protest killing of seven civilians in Kulgam district.

Shops, business establishments and private schools of a particular community remained closed, but government schools, offices and banks functioned normally. President AnjumanIslamiaBhadarwah, Pervaiz Ahmed Sheikh said: “We had given the call for bandh to lodge our protest against civilian killings in Kulgam district.”

At Doda, a protest rally was also taken out, which started from MarkaziJamia Masjid and passed through main market.

SCHOOLS, COLLEGES IN SRINAGAR TO REMAIN CLOSED TODAY 

All schools and degree colleges will remain closed in Srinagar district on Tuesday, an official said.  He said the decision has been taken as a “precautionary measure to avoid any law and order situation.”

The district administration Bandipora also decided to close degree colleges and higher secondary schools in the district on Tuesday. 

Class work will also remain suspended in all higher secondary schools and degree colleges in Kupwara district, except Karnah and Machil, an official said.  Meanwhile, Kashmir University announced that all examinations scheduled on Tuesday have been postponed.  A varsity spokesman said the revised date sheets are available on the university website.

RESTRICTIONS IN CITY AREAS TODAY: POLICE 

A top police official said restrictions will remain in place MaharajGunj, SafaKadal,  Khanyar, Nowhatta and Rainawari on Tuesday.  “Partial restrictions will also be imposed in KralKhud, Maisuma as well as LalChowk areas,” he said.