Handwara Killings: Spontaneous Shutdown in Srinagar

Ubeer Naqushbandi

SRINAGAR

A Paramilitary jeep moving throguh curfewed Nowhatta area of Srinagar, on April 15, 2016 in. Authorities imposed a curfew like restrictions in Handwara and restrictions in parts of Srinagar.PHOTO BY BILAL BAHADUR
A Paramilitary forces jeep moving through curfewed Nowhatta area of Srinagar, on April 15, 2016 in. (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur).

Summer capital is observing a spontaneous shutdown on Friday following four civilian killings in North Kashmir’s Handwara. Reports reaching from Shopian, Pulwama and Islamabad said that people have resumed their normal work.

Business establishments are closed down while public transport is off the roads in Srinagar while police have put up barricades at various points. Curfew like restrictions has put in place in area falling under six Old Srinagar police stations.

Kashmir observed complete shutdown on Wednesday and Thursday against four civilian killings by forces during protests against an alleged molestation bid by an army man in main Handwara chowk.

The deceased included an elderly woman, Raja Begum, who was shot dead by forces at Langate, almost two kilometres away from the place where the alleged molestation took place.

Authorities imposed strict curfew in Handwara since last two days which has been continued today as well. Civilian movement was strictly curbed to avoid law and order crisis. Even media personnel had to face tough situation in the area.

Speaking to Kashmir Life, ADC Handwara Muzaffar Ahmad Shah said, “strict restrictions have been put in place in view of the protests.”

Curfewed Ghanta Ghar on April 15, 2016
Severe restrictions were put in place in Srinagar following civilian killings in Handwara. (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

The J&K government ordered a magisterial probe into the killings headed by the ADC. “Because of the restrictions in place no witness could record his/her statement,” Muzaffar said, “once normalcy returns, we will start probe.” The investigation team has been given two weeks’ time while Kupwara district administration has initiated process of relief to NoK to deceased.

Separatist groups have called for protests after Friday congregational prayers against the civilian killings. However, top pro-freedom leadership has been detained. Syed Ali Geelani, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq have been put under detention while JKLF chief Muhammad Yasin Malik has been lodged at Kothibagh Police Station. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has also called for a rally in Nowhatta area this afternoon.

While strict restrictions are in place in Handwara and adjoining areas, media personnel have been barred from entering the town, again. “A top cop in the area told us to come after two days,” a reporter, who is on way to Langate, said. “We moved through different roads and villages are trying to reach Langate and main town.”

Reports reaching from North Kashmir’s Bandipora said that a protest march was organized in main town. The protestors raised pro-freedom slogans and denounced the civilian killings. “It was interesting that there was no deployment of forces this time and no law and order situation was created,” a witness told Kashmir Life over phone, “protestors dispersed peacefully.”

Reports from North Kashmir’s Uri said that the area is observing complete shutdown today while main Sopore town too is closed. However, hawkers were seen round Bus Stand in the area.

Markets opened in South Kashmir’s Pulwama after two days of shutdown. “It is normal here with a bit heavy forces’ deployment this time,” a local said, “moving bunkers have been installed at various points.” However, there were reports of stone-pelting from Pampore town.

SP Pulwama, Rayees Ahmad, told Kashmir Life, “there are no restrictions in place. It is normal.”

Reports further said that pople in Pulwama are busy these days in their orchards. “Farmers are busy spraying their apple trees,” a local from Muran Pulwama said, “that is why movement of people is considerably less.”

Similar reports reached from apple town Shopian. Shops and business establishments opened early today and normal life resumed after two days.

(With Sheikh Hilal in Shopian, Abu Bakr in Handwara and Irshad Ahmad in Uri).

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