A month on, India's Kashmir Valley remains tense

The unrest was sparked by the killing on July 8 of Burhan Wani, a regional commander and poster boy of the militant separatist group the Hizbul Mujahideen. Photograph:( AFP )

AFP Srinagar Aug 07, 2016, 08.24 AM (IST)
India's Kashmir Valley remained tense today as people stayed away from roads due to prohibitory orders and a shutdown call given by separatists over the killing of a militant.

The northern Jammu and Kashmir state has been on the boil since July 8, when security forces gunned down 22-year-old Burhan Wani, a commander of the Hizbul-Mujahideen, a group fighting Indian control of the Muslim-majority region.

Armed police personnel patrolled deserted markets and roads as residents largely stayed indoors. Barricades and barbed wire were laid out on roads in sensitive areas.

Violent protests in parts of the Valley, a subsequent curfew and a shutdown called by separatist leaders against Wani's killing, have kept normalcy away from the Valley.

In the latest instance of violence, security forces opened fire on curfew-defying protesters on Friday, killing three and injuring 100 others, including security personnel.

An opposition party leader in Kashmir blamed excessive use of force for the situation.

"The situation is getting worse. It is bad for all of us, for common people as well as political parties. We had warned the government before that they should stop using excessive force and pellet guns and the rampant arrests and crackdowns that are causing difficulties to people in the valley should also be stopped, only then can we hope for a silver lining of improved situation," said a regional opposition leader, Ali Mohammad Sagar.

Authorities had lifted curfew from all districts on July 26, except the sensitive South Kashmir belt.

However, it was re-imposed the next day after separatists called for protest march to Kulgam district town against Wani's killing.

Fifty-five people have been killed and more than 5,000 wounded, including Indian security personnel, in the almost month-long unrest. More than 300 people have suffered injuries because of pellet guns, including 171 with eye injuries, further fuelling the anger against the forces and the government.