Army chief visits simmering Kashmir; toll reaches 45
Pak anthem at Valley mosques on 12th day of curfew; separatists extend shutdown further to July 25
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Jul 20: Even as there was no major incident of violence or clash in the turbulent Kashmir valley on the 12th consecutive day of shutdown and curfew on Wednesday, death toll reached 45 with yet another injured civilian’s fatality.
Official sources said that 55-year-old Ghulam Mohammad Mir r/o Khumriyal Kupwara, who had last week sustained injuries in a clash at his village, breathed his last at SHMS Hospital. One person had got killed and six others injured when troops had opened fire on a crowd at Khumriyal. With this fatal casualty, death toll in the 12-day-long turmoil in the Valley has reached 45. With the addition of the five persons killed in Police and security forces’ firing in Kupwara district after an alleged incident of molestation in April, 50 persons have died in the three-and-a-half month old PDP-BJP coalition regime in Jammu and Kashmir.
Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s death in a controversial Police and Army operation on July 8 has triggered protest and clashes with security forces in almost all the 10 district of Kashmir valley. While as 45 persons, including a Police driver, have died in the clashes, over 2,000 have sustained injuries---many of them in pellet gun firing.
No major incident of violence was reported on the 12th day of continued shutdown even as minor clashes took place between protesters and security forces at several places. In the evening, Pakistani and Jihadist anthems were played on PAS of many mosques across the Valley that observed ‘Black Day’ on Pakistan’s call in solidarity with Wani and families of over 40 civilians who have died in the turmoil.
In the evening people at several places took out processions and shouted pro-Pakistan, pro-Azadi and anti-Indian slogans. Reports said that over a hundred small processions of 100-300 protesters were taken out. Blackout was also enforced in several areas on Hurriyat Conference’s for half an hour.
Senior separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik have, in a joint statement, announced extension of shutdown to July 25. They have announced relaxation of a few hours from 1400 hours onwards on Thursday.
Authorities on Wednesday said that Government had ordered immediate opening of all educational institutions in the relatively lesser disturbed districts of Budgam, Baramulla, Bandipore and Ganderbal from Thursday.
Mobile phone services and Internet through GPRS remained closed down in entire Valley where the only access to the information highway is BSNL’s landline Broadband. Most of such services have been shut down last week.
Army chief in Valley
Chief of Army Staff Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag reviewed the security situation in Kashmir during his visit to the Srinagar based Chinar Corps.
Army Chief was briefed by the Northern Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda and Chinar Corps Commander Lt Gen Satish Dua on the situation along the LC and the hinterland including the measures instituted to ensure close coordination with all security and other government agencies towards maintaining peace in the Valley.
Army Chief, accompanied by the Northern Army and Chinar Corps Commanders, also visited Kupwara headquarters of 28th Division and Awantipora based Victor Force headquarters where he was briefed on the operational preparedness as also the initiatives taken by Army in collaboration with civil administration to alleviate hardships being faced by the populace due to the prevailing unrest. Army Chief also met with the DG of J&K and was reassured about the excellent synergy between Army, Police, CAPFs and intelligence agencies.
In his interaction with officers and troops, the Army Chief commended their operational preparedness and commitment to the cause of national security. He exhorted everyone to ensure strict vigil along the Line of Control. Appreciating the synergy being shown amongst all security agencies that has resulted in successful counter-terrorist operations, he also complimented the troops on ground for showing maximum restraint even in the face of grave provocation. He expressed his grief and concern over the casualties of civilians and security forces during the protests while making an earnest appeal to the people to maintain peace and help security forces serve them better.
Army Chief also impressed upon everyone to continue their positive engagement with the Awaam and lend them all possible assistance in close coordination with other stakeholders.
[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]