Srinagar: Three youth including a teenage girl were killed and two others wounded in the Army firing on protesters in Jammu and Kashmir's southern Kulgam district on Saturday.
The incident occurred amid rising tensions in the Valley ahead of the second death anniversary of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani.
Wani was along with two other militants killed by the Army in Kokernag area of Anantnag on July 8, 2016, sparking off widespread unrest in Kashmir Valley and Chenab valley areas of Jammu region which continued for about six months during which more than eighty people were killed.
The witnesses said that the Army arrived in Hawoora village of Kulgam’s Redwani area on Saturday reportedly to conduct searches following reports about the presence of separatist militants. But the troops were confronted by surging crowds which allegedly hurled rocks at their vehicles amid chants of ‘we want freedom’.
The Army fired live ammunition to quell the mob, injuring, at least, five people. All of them were rushed to a medical facility in neighbouring Frisal area where the doctors declared three of them brought dead.
The slain have been identified as Shakir Ahmed Khanday (22), Irshad Ahmed (20) and Andleeb Jan (16) - all residents of Hawoora.
Thousands of people attended their funeral, the witnesses said. A report said that two masked gunmen also appeared at the scene and offered the slain a gun salute.
Two seriously injured youth have been brought to Srinagar for specialised treatment at a local hospital.
A statement issued by the J&K police here said that an Army patrol moving through Hawoora Mishipora area on Saturday afternoon was pelted by miscreants. “Consequently the Army tried to disperse the miscreants and in the process five individuals sustained injuries,” it said adding that the injured were evacuated to a nearby hospital where three of them including a girl succumbed.
The statement further said that the police has started investigation into the matter.
Meanwhile, a shutdown called by an alliance of key separatist leaders against shifting of Syedah Aasiyah Andrabi, the leader of rightwing all-women Dukhtaran-e-Millat (daughters of the faith), along with her two associates, to Delhi by National Investigation Agency (NIA) brought life to a standstill across the Kashmir Valley on Saturday.
56-year-old Andrabi and her aides Nahida Nasreen and Sofi Fahmeeda were on Friday sent to 10 days NIA remand by a Patiala House court. The NIA had sought the custody of the three charged with funding for terror and subversive activities in Jammu and Kashmir it for further interrogation. The separatist leaders’ alliance called ‘Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL)’ condemned the action of NIA and alleged “It is the worst form of political vengeance and vendetta against the resistance leadership.”
Ahead of shutdown and protests called by the JRL to commemorate the "martyrdom" of Wani, two of its leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq were put under house arrest and the third Muhammad Yasin Malik was taken into preventive custody by the police.
The security forces in riot gear on the second consecutive day on Saturday enforced curfew-like restrictions in parts of summer capital Srinagar "as a precautionary measure" to prevent protests and violence. The authorities also suspended the rail services in the Valley whereas the shutdown called by the separatists closed marketplaces and public transport services.
Tral, the native township of Burhan Wani, has been placed under curfew ahead of his anniversary. The authorities have snapped mobile Internet services in southern and central parts of the Valley and announced that security restrictions will remain in force in most parts of Srinagar on Sunday “as a precautionary measure.”
The officials said that security restrictions under Section 144 CrPc will be enforced in areas falling under the jurisdiction of the police stations of Khanyar, Nowhatta, Safa Kadal, Maharaj Gunj, Rainawari, Kralkhud and Maisuma police stations. He also said that the roll number slips and admit cards of the candidates scheduled to appear for different exams on Sunday will be treated as curfew passes.
Meanwhile, a CRPF jawan and a civilian pedestrian were injured in a grenade attack carried out by suspected militants in Srinagar’s Hyderpora area on Saturday afternoon. Ct Sadashiv Vipati of ‘C’ Company of the CRPF’s 25th Battalion and civilian Jibran Bashir who received splinter injuries were rushed to the hospital for treatment, the police said adding that their condition was stable.