Srinagar: Sixteen people died and nearly 200 were injured in clashes between protesters and security forces that broke out in Kashmir on Saturday, a day after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani was killed. Curfew has been imposed in all 10 districts of the Valley.
Several police stations and security establishments were attacked by mobs in areas like Anantnag, Kulgam and Shopian. According to the police, more than 90 of those injured were security personnel. Expressing grief over the deaths, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said “disproportionate use of force for crowd control results in loss of precious lives and grave injuries which should be avoided at all costs” and asked security forces to follow standard operating procedure while dealing with crowds. Central forces have been sent to help the police in Kashmir. “Deeply anguished at the loss of precious lives, pray for the speedy recovery of the injured,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in a tweet yesterday.
Despite restrictions, a large number of people gathered in Tral for Burhan Wani’s funeral yesterday. He was killed in an intelligence-led police operation along with two other terrorists on Friday afternoon. The 22-year-old had become the face of new militancy in Kashmir, representing the disturbing profile of young, educated local boys taking up arms. He featured in videos circulated on Facebook and WhatsApp aimed at recruiting young Kashmiri men for terror.
Police says Burhan Wani was killed because he was planning a terror strike. Sources add that the fact that he was found in plains and not in a mountain hideout indicated that he was planning an attack.
As violence escalated in south Kashmir yesterday, three police stations were set on fire and weapons were looted. In Kulgam district, there is complete breakdown of communication and even police wireless devices are defunct.
Police say more than 90 cops were injured in stone-pelting by protesters since Friday.
Mobile internet services were blocked across the Valley on Friday night. The Amarnath Yatra was also suspended temporarily. School board exams were postponed.
Train services from Baramulla in the Kashmir valley to Banihal town in Jammu were also suspended. The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, that passes through south Kashmir, was also closed yesterday.