Kashmir Shuts Down To Protest Mystery Killings

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SRINAGAR: A complete shutdown was observed across the Kashmir Valley and in parts of Chenab and Pir Panchal regions against string of mysterious killings of civilians in Sopore town of Baramulla district.

The call for shutdown was jointly given by both factions of Hurriyat Conference and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and was supported by almost all the separatist groups.

A total of six civilians, which include former militants and Hurriyat activists besides two people associated with telecom trade have been killed since May 25 in restive Sopore area. 

Police blame militants for the killings while Hurriyat leadership and United Jihad Council have alleged that “Indian secret agencies” were behind the killings.

Reports said bazaars were shut and educational institutes were closed.

Government offices and banks recorded thin attendance. The public transport was also off the routes while private transport was plying on few routes, these reports said.

The situation in Srinagar city remained peaceful, however, at HMT two youth were injured during clashes with the police. Groups of youth to stone-pelting in the area. The clashes between police and youth continued for several hours.

There were reports of minor clashes in Sopore and Bandipore towns of north Kashmir, while normal life remained paralysed in Baramulla and Sopore towns.

The police and paramilitary forces were deployed in strength especially in sensitive areas like Sopore and Pattan townships to maintain law and order, the officials said.

In Sopore it was shutdown for the third straight day. 

Reports said that all the markets of the town were shut while public and private traffic movement was “zero”. Sopore town, where fear is palpable, was presenting look of a ghost town. Only an occasional police or security vehicle was plying on the streets.

Earlier at Main Chowk, Sopore protesters attacked camp of 179 Battalion CRPF located in SBI building.  Late in the evening protesters attacked Sopore police station with stones and bricks.

The shutdown was also observed in Baramulla town with all the shops, commercial establishments and education institutes shut. The shutdown also affected movement of public and private transport. “Some boys pelted stones on a police party but we dispersed instantly,” a police official said, adding: “the situation remained peaceful.”

Volatile Palhallan hamlet of the district Baramulla also observed a shutdown and after long time the area didn’t witness any clashes.

The south Kashmir districts of the Valley including Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian district also observed shutdown with all commercial establishments shut. “Even far flung villages also observed the shutdown,” said reports from Pulwama district.

The shutdown was also observed in Budgam and Ganderbal districts of the Valley.

Meanwhile, reports said the shutdown was also observed in parts of Chenab valley including Doda and parts of Bhaderwah and Kishtiwar. From Pirpanchal region people observed strike in Kishtwar and parts of Poonch. 

Dozens rounded up in Sopore

Srinagar: A special team constituted by police to probe recent killings and attacks in Sopore town have detained dozens of youth for questioning, security officials said on Wednesday.

They said the team –– consisting of officers from police’s Special Operation Group, army, Central Reserve Police Force and other agencies –– detained over 40 youth from Sopore areas as well as from its outskirts since yesterday.

“The arrests are part of the ongoing investigations and all this is being done to ensure safety of people. We don’t want repeat of killings or attacks again and we also want to ensure that people don’t face any inconvenience in coming days,” the security officials said.

Sources said the forces, who have been deployed all across Sopore and in its adjoining areas, detained several bikers and they too were questioned by probe team. They said no detained youth was formally and few of them were also released.

Police on Tuesday placed a bounty of 2 million rupees on the heads of two “wanted militants” of a splinter Hizbul Mujahideen group. The two, Abdul Qayoom Najar and Imtiyaz Ahmad Kundoo, are now part of recently formed Lashkar-e-Islam and have been accused of killing policemen and civilians including former militants and a Hurriyat activist.

Additionally, police have deployed 16 teams in and around Sopore who are maintaining a close vigil on the suspects as well conducting frisking. “The army is providing back up to these teams and the teams have been deployed on all the roads leading to Sopore.  These teams are for surveillance,” a top security official said. (GNS)

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