Kashmir simmers over Handwara, Kupwara killings

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Asif Iqbal

Srinagar, April 14: Kashmir Thursday observed a complete shutdown for the second straight day against the innocent civilian killings at Handwara in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district after protests against alleged molestation attempt of a girl. The authorities had placed Handwara, Kupwara and parts of Srinagar here under strict restrictions.
According to GNS correspondent, the Valley observed shutdown against the killing of four innocents – Nayeem Qadir, Jehangir Ahmad, Muhammad Iqbal and Jana Begum – in government forces action in Handwara. The four were killed after an alleged molestation attempt of a girl in Handwara by a soldier. However, the army and the girl, who appeared on a video released by a defence spokesman, denied the charge.
The Kupwara, Handwara, Langate, Drugmulla and adjoining villages were placed under strict curfew like restrictions by forces including army and police. All the lanes, bylanes, roads and streets were sealed and barricaded by forces to prevent protests in these areas. Though the situation remained peaceful compared to Wednesday but protests still erupted at several villages including Brambri, Shatmulla, Magam and Handwara.
In the City here, there was a complete shutdown in Srinagar with all the shops and business establishments closed. The public transport was also off the roads but private vehicles plied on all routes.
In view of the shutdown call, authorities imposed restrictions in Old City and Maisuma police stations since early morning for the second day as well. Hundreds of police and CRPF men were deployed in the areas which were placed under restrictions. The mobile bunkers and concertina wires were erected on various bridges and junctions of the Old City and Maisuma.
The clashes between forces and protesters erupted in parts of the city including Natipora, HMT and Zakura. A police spokesman said the deployments “exercised maximum restraint” and “there were no reports of injuries to any civilian”. He said that some cops were injured in Handwara and “one of them was referred to Srinagar”.
The shutdown was also observed in all other districts of the Valley. The authorities in view of the prevailing situation suspended internet services in entire north Kashmir. Elsewhere in Valley, the authorities suspended 3G services on all telecom networks.
In his appeal, the police spokesman said: “General public is once again requested to please refrain from indulging in lawlessness, remain calm and help the administration in maintaining peace and order.”