A shutdown called by Joint Resistance Leadership to protest the weekend killings in Kashmir evoked a near-total response on Tuesday, paralysing normal life across the valley and beyond.
Most commercial establishments, schools, colleges and other educational institutions shut for the third day running to protest 15 killings at the hands of government forces last weekend, including eight militants and six civilians one of whom injured earlier died Tuesday morning in a hospital.
The 17-year-old youth, Suhail Ahmed Bhat from Nagbal area of Shopian had received bullet injuries in his abdomen during protests and clashes on Sunday in southern Kashmir.
As his body was brought to his native village residents took to the streets to protest Suhail’s killing.
Thousands later participated in the funeral of slain teenager amid sloganeering and tears.
In Srinagar, large areas of Downtown wore a deserted look except for the hundreds of police and paramilitary forces in riot gear patrolling streets in the densely populated areas, witnesses said.
Traffic in uptown city was thin.
Witnesses said central Kashmir districts of Ganderbal and Budgam also remained shut for the third day.
The shutdown call against the ‘unabated civilian killings’ was extended for a day on Monday by the JRL comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik.
Earlier Tuesday clashes broke out between youth and police at Pantha Chowk area of Srinagar where police detained three teenage boys on charges of stone throwing and playing pro-freedom tarans (songs) on mosque loudspeakers, according to residents.
In Nawabazar area of Srinagar, a youth was also detained by police for throwing stones at the police, a witness said.
Residents said angry youth also protested in Bonigam area of Qazigund against ‘force’s atrocities’.
“Clashes between youth and protests were held at Qaimoh and Khudwani areas of Kulgam district,” a villager said.
Protests and clashes also erupted in Katpoora-Yaripora in Kulgam district.
In Kadipora and Laizbal area of old town Anantnag, government forces ransacked houses following clashes in the area. Residents alleged.
“We had a marriage function on Sunday and had guests at home. While chasing the protestors government forces smashed all our window panes,” said Ghulam Rasool Khan of Kadipora.
Youth pelted the forces with stones as they fired warning shots in the air and used tear smoke to disperse them.
Residents said government forces also vandalised property in Boonigam village of Qazigund and Khrew- Pampore following clashes in these areas.
Elsewhere, mourners continued to visit in large numbers the family homes of the civilians and militants killed in over the weekend.
JRL leaders confined
Leaders of their factions of Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq were kept under house detention while JKLF chief Muhammad Yasin Malik remain lodged in Central Jail Srinagar.
Other prominent pro-freedom leaders including Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai were either confined to their homes or kept in preventive detention in different police stations.
Resume normal activity from today: JRL tells people
Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik today asked the people of Kashmir to resume normal activity from Wednesday and termed prevailing situation in Kashmir “extremely worrisome and painful.”
“Kashmir has been turned into graveyard where each day we have to shoulder the coffins of our dear ones brutally killed by the government forces,” the JRL said in a joint statement issued here.
The leadership said that the streets, villages and roads have been turned red with the blood of youth by the trigger-happy forces “who kill anyone be it armed youth, protestors or even those inside their homes.”
“Those who do not die of the forces brutality are either blinded, maimed or grievously injured for life,” the leadership said.
The JRL asked people to resume their work from May 9. “We appeal people of all walks of life that include employees, lawyers, teaches, traders and transporters and others to continue their protest against unabated killings by government forces by wearing black badges on arms and fixing black flags atop houses, shops and vehicles on Wednesday,” they said.
They also urged the Imams of all the mosques, shrines and Imam Baras to offer funeral prayers in absentia for the martyrs of Shopian and Srinagar after congregational Friday prayers on May 11 and to read and pass a JRL resolution.
“Unabated killing of civilians is a critical concern for the nation and JRL had met last week to deliberate upon it and was going to take the public on board regarding the deliberations but the authorities did not allow them to do so as they were again detained,” the leadership said. “Once the leadership gets to meet again, the future course of action regarding the issue will be shared and inputs taken.”
The leadership also “mourned the death of 17 year-old Safeel Ahmed, resident of Nagabal, Shopian injured in forces indiscriminate firing on Sunday.” Ahmed succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday.
“We pay glowing tributes to all those killed by the Indian forces in Shopian. Their sacrifices are etched in our collective consciousness even as we mourn their deaths,” the leadership said.
The leadership applauded the courage and bravery of people of Kashmir for remaining steadfast and resolute in this toughest hour of repression and said resistance to oppression has to be made a way of life both at individual and collective levels. It has to be inculcated in our daily lives so as to stay persistent on “our stand for achieving our fundamental political right of self determination and to withstand the illegal forcible military control of New Delhi.”
JRL also strongly condemned and expressed grief at the sad incident at Narbal in which a young tourist from Tamil Nadu was hit with a stone who later died in hospital and a local lady was injured. JRL said that such incidents go against the grain of our humanity religion and culture.
“Elements who do so defame the sacred people’s movement by such inhuman actions. People of Kashmir have always welcomed tourists as our guests even in the most trying of times and this practice will never change,” the leadership said. The leadership urged the youth to maintain discipline while protesting against the atrocities and killings of people by the government forces.