30 dead in violence-torn Kashmir valley as clashes, protests continue for third day

Cops chase away protesters in Srinagar during a protest against the killing of Burhan Wani, a separatist militant leader, on July 10, 2016. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir Jul 11, 2016, 12.07 PM (IST) Anees Zargar
Ensuing violence in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, after a top Hizbul Mujahideen commander was killed last week, has claimed at least 30 lives, leaving nearly 350 people injured whilst unrest refuses to die down. 

The Muslim-majority valley of Kashmir has been placed under strict curfew over past three days paralysing normal life in most parts. Mobile internet services also remain suspended for third day running. 

In some parts of the valley, however, people have been defying restrictions triggering further clashes. 

Situation worsens in southern Kashmir 

Twenty one years old Burhan Wani, tipped as the face of new-age militancy in Kashmir, was killed earlier on Friday in an encounter in Kokernag area. Wani hailed from a village in Tral in South Kashmir, where most of his associates were based. He gained popularity through social media network. 

After his killing, tens of thousands of locals joined his funeral prayers across the disputed region.

A majority of agitators, who died in last three days, belong to southern part of Kashmir, where the situation has worsened amid growing unrest. 

In summer capital Srinagar, situation further deteriorated on Sunday evening after the death of a youth. 

Tension has gripped other parts of the valley as well. "There are clashes going on in our area between forces and locals, especially youth. So far, there is no eventuality but the situation doesn't seem to be getting better anytime soon," Owais, a resident of Bandipora in north Kashmir told Wion over phone.

'Medical emergency' declared by government-run hospital in Srinagar

The number of injured has also risen putting a pressure on government hospitals in the state. 

A ‘medical emergency’ was declared by a government-run city hospital in Srinagar on Sunday in wake of the situation. 

“The situation is very bad as we continue to receive cases of injuries from across the valley. The hospital has received nearly 200 injured patients in two days. Many of them suffered bullet injuries and with wounds from lethal weapons like pellet guns,” Sri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital's Dr Adil Ashraf said. Routine admissions, theater and leaves of the doctors have been cancelled here. 

According to Dr Aadil, president, Residents Doctors Association at SMHS and associated hospitals, the government forces resorted to tear gas shelling inside hospital premises.

"Four lung disease patients were being treated in the emergency room when police resorted to tear gas shelling leading to severe suffocation of patients," he said.

A local, Mehraj Din, who was attending a 70-year-old man inside the hospital, claimed the police have beaten attendants inside the hospital. "This will make the suituation only worse as there is already too much anger among locals," he said.

The hospital administration added the staff received calls from many doctors that ambulances were not allowed by Indian forces at several places adding to not only the 'shortage of staff but putting patients' lives at risk'.

'Authorities seldom impose curfew here'

Omaid Rather, a resident of an uptown locality of Srinagar which usually does not witness protests, is stuck in his home from past several days. 

"The shops around here in Jawahar Nagar usually remain open even on public strikes and the authorities seldom impose curfew here but it is the opposite this time. The shops open for an hour in the early morning only that is when we buy food and other items," Rather said.

If the restrictions and clashes continue, the locality, according to residents, may run out of medical supplies and subsistence which is transported via state highway, that has also been closed. 

Shutdown call by separatists extended by two days 

In the meanwhile, tourists in Kashmir are preferring to leave the tension-hit valley.  

Further, the annual pilgrimage to Amanath cave, carried out by hundreds of thousands Hindu pilgrims also remained suspended on Monday, in view of violence. A police handout said the stranded pilgrims near several camps have been evacuated to a different city.

"Till 1200 hours, 2,462 Yatris (pilgrims) left these camps for the holy cave, the pilgrim site, today. The air services are also going normally and 449 pilgrims left to visit the holy cave by air. As many as 2,799 pilgrims visited the pilgrim site today," an official statement by the state police said. 

As many as 1,28,946 pilgrims have visited the holy cave so far since the pilgrimage began from July 2.

Meanwhile, the shutdown call by separatist politicians has been extended to next two days till Wednesday.