16 dead in clashes, curfew in Kashmir after Hizbul terrorist’s killing

New Delhi/ Srinagar: The death toll in violence in Kashmir Valley rose to 16 after a youth was killed and four other persons succumbed to the injuries they sustained in Saturday’s clashes with security forces. Also, a policeman has been killed as mob threw his vehicle into river in Sangam.

Irfan Ahmad Malik, 17, was killed in fresh firing in Pulwama district where a curfew-defying mob attacked the security forces, a senior police official said.

Four other persons, identified as Imtiyaz Ahmad Mandoo, Mashooq Ahmad and Safeer Ahmad, all from Anantnag district, and Mohammmad Altaf Rather from Pulwama district died at a hospital on Sunday.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has met Jammu Kashmir Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti to take stock of the situation and assured her of complete support from the Centre. He also said that the situation in Kashmir is under control and peace will be restored soon.

Kashmir was on Saturday rattled by widespread mob violence and clashes which left 11 people dead and 126, including 96 security forces personnel, injured even as curfew was clamped across the Valley and mobile internet services suspended to contain the fallout of gunning down of militant commander Burhan Wani.

A top official said curfew has been imposed across the Valley and restrictions put in place to avert fresh trouble.

Three policemen were also missing after a large mob attacked a police station, set it ablaze and used its weaponary to shoot and injure three cops, police said.

The eight protesters killed on Saturday were identified as Aijaz Ahmed Thokru, a resident of Siligam in Anantnag, Yawar Manzoor Kondru of Anantnag, Khursheed Ahmed of Kulgam and Zubair Ahmed also of Kulgam, who was injured on Friday but succumbed to his injuries on Saturday, Adil Bashir of Dooru, Anantnag, Abdul Hamid Mochi of Arwami village in Anantnag, Shaukat Ahmed of Bijbehara and Mohammad Asif of Kukurnag.

All except Kondru who drowned in the Jhelum as security forces sought to disperse a violent mob were killed when security forces retaliated to attacks by violent mobs on police stations, mobile posts, security force pickets, police patrols and security force vehicles, the officials said.

Two more injured succumbed to injuries in hospital but were yet to be identified.

Defying prohibitory orders, a surging crowd of over 20,000 people on Saturday attended the burial of Wani in Tral town in Pulwama.

Shouting pro-Islam and pro-Azadi slogans, mourners appeared surcharged and youths raised slogans vowing to follow Wani’s path.

Amid the protests, militants attacked a police station in Pulwama as well as a tehsildar’s office in Tral and attacked private and public vehicles on the highway, which was thwarted by the security forces .

In view of the volatile situation, Amarnath Yatra was also suspended, with police saying it will be resumed “as soon as it is possible to ensure security of yatris”.

The administration also announced that all exams from school to university level had been postponed as well as the National Eligibility Test and interviews of the State Public Commission.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti appealed for calm while expressing “profound” grief and agony over the deaths during the protests and asked security forces to avoid use of disproportionate force for crowd control. “Violence only brings miseries to the people and tragedies for the victim families,” she said and appealed people, especially the youth not to fall prey to the machinations of the vested interests, who play politics over the dead bodies of Kashmiris.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah voiced apprehension of a likely spurt in militancy in the Valley in the wake of Wani’s killing.

“Mark my words – Burhan’s ability to recruit in to militancy from the grave will far outstrip anything he could have done on social media,” the National Conference leader said in a series of tweets.

He also asserted that Wani had become the new ‘icon’ for the disaffected community in the valley.

“After many years I hear slogans for “Azadi” resonate from the mosque in my uptown Srinagar locality. Kashmir’s disaffected got a new icon yesterday,” he said in another tweet.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said Center is working with the state government to bring normalcy in the Valley. He also expressed “deep anguish” over the “loss of precious lives in the incidents of violence” in Kashmir and appealed for calm. He held a meeting in Delhi on Sunday to review the law and order situation in the Valley.