While CM talks of 'healing touch', one more youth killed in Kashmir

Angry protesters set a forest hut on fire in Anantnag after news of the youth's death spread. Photograph:( AFP )

Srinagar Jul 13, 2016, 06.46 PM (IST)
One more youth was killed today in a clash between a stone-pelting mob and security forces in Kashmir, raising the toll in the five-day unrest to 35, even as Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed "great sadness and sorrow" over the deaths and promised a "healing touch".
Shattering the peace during most of the day, clashes erupted this evening at Harnag in Koimoh with a group of youth pelting stones on passing vehicles of security forces.
In retaliatory action by the security forces, one youth was injured, officials said, adding he succumbed while being shifted to hospital. This raised the toll during the five-day unrest to 35.
As soon as the news of death of the youth spread, angry protesters set ablaze a forest hut at Khannabal in Anantnag district town, the officials said.
In another incident, a youth was injured when security forces opened fire at Koil in Pulwama district to disperse a mob which was pelting stones at an Indian Air Force base, the officials said.
They said Reyaz Ahmad Padder was admitted to District Hospital Pulwama where his situation is stated to be stable.
Earlier, barring some incidents of stone-pelting, Kashmir was relatively calm through the day as curfew remained in force in some parts of Kashmir, including Pampore and Kupwara towns, restrictions were in place on movement of people in the rest of the Valley.
A police spokesman said barring "some incidents" of stone pelting at various places, the situation "remained under control" in the valley.
The stray incidents of stone-pelting were reported from Khudwani, Kulgam, Iman Sahib, Shopian and Kakpora in south Kashmir, Kralpora, Kupwara, Trehgam, Langate, Lalpora, Putkha Sopore and Main Chowk Sopore in north Kashmir, he said.
Reaching out to people, Mehbooba sought their "support in pulling J&K out of the vortex of violence and bloodshed."
She said she needs people's support in realising the dream of a politically-emancipated, economically self-reliant and socially secure Jammu and Kashmir.
"The 27-year-long violence has left deep wounds in almost each home here and we have to jointly safeguard our state and our people from further bloodshed and destruction," she said after paying homage to the martyrs of 1931 at the Martyrs graveyard in Khawaja Bazar area of downtown Srinagar.
Commenting on the current unrest, Mehbooba said, "My heart is overwhelmed with great sadness and sorrow as a result of the killings in the latest spate of violence in Kashmir."
Asserting that "I won't let the people down, despite facing a challenging task", she said, "While my government's immediate priority would be to reach out to the affected families with a healing touch, in the long run a concerted effort shall have to be launched to make peace and stability a reality in J&K, with youth being the focus of the government's welfare initiatives." 
Urging people not to "play with peace", the Chief Minister asked them not to fall prey to the machinations of those elements who want to disturb peace in the state.
"I think the biggest tribute to them would be to protect that peace and not fall prey to the machinations of those elements who want to disturb peace here," said Mehbooba who was accompanied by some of her Cabinet colleagues, legislators, party functionaries and top officers of the civil and police administration.
According to the latest figures available, most deaths over the last four days have taken place in Anantnag district (16) followed by Kulgam (eight), Shopian (five), Pulwama (three), Srinagar and Kupwara (one each).
Meanwhile, militants fired at the vehicle of a Sub Divisional Police Officer in Shopian district but he escaped unhurt, police said.
Normal life remained affected for the fifth consecutive day today due to the shutdown called by separatist groups to protest the civilian killings in the clashes with security forces. The separatists today extended the shutdown by two more days till July 15.
Shops and business establishments remained closed while public and private transport remained off roads due to the strike.
Mobile Internet and train services remained suspended while mobile telephony has been snapped in Kupwara area following the death of a youth during protests yesterday. Mobile telephony is partially suspended in south Kashmir's four districts.
Hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq were detained by police after they tried to defy restrictions and lead a march to Martyrs graveyard in downtown Srinagar.
Geelani, who was under house arrest, was detained by the police on the airport road outside his residence in uptown Hyderpora after he defied restrictions and tried to take out a march to commemorate the 85th anniversary of those who laid down their lives fighting the Aristocratic rule in the state in 1931.
Police also detained Mirwaiz, who was under house arrest, after he defied the restrictions and came out of his Nigeen residence to lead a march to the Martyrs graveyard.
Mirwaiz climbed the main gate of his residence as a heavy deployment of police had barricaded the gate and did not open it, a spokesman of the Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat said.