After Normal Sunday, Kashmir Tense Again On Monday26 July 2010
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: After a normal day on Sunday, Kashmir valley again witnessed security restriction, curfew, barricades and protests on Monday in the wake of separatists' call for complete shutdown and demonstrations as part of their 'Quit Kashmir Campaign'. A curfew was enforced in Batamaloo area as the authorities feared protests there. The body of a missing Batamaloo youth was retrieved from downtown Srinagar last evening. The incident triggered clashes between locals and the police. The police said 'the youth, Farooq Ahmad Bhat, 28, a resident of S.D.Colony, Batmaloo, was mentally disturbed'. Bhat had gone missing on July 20 when he left his home in the morning. 'Bhat's body was retrieved from Kate Koal in downtown Srinagar's Kani Kadal area,' said a police spokesman. The police suspect Bhat committed suicide. There were reports of demonstrations from Batamaloo and nearby Rambagh area on Monday. Several areas of downtown Srinagar and uptown Maisuma were brought under curfew-like restrictions to forestall any attempt by separatists' supporters to organise protests and stone-pelting. Hardline All Parties Hurriyat Conference, led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, has called for shutdown and protests. In response to the shutdown call, shops, educational institutions, business establishments, government offices and banks remained closed. A very thin traffic was observed on the roads. Flights to and from Srinagar International Airport, however, remain unaffected as vehicles heading to the airport plied without any hindrance. In north Kashmir's Rafiabad area, tension continued to simmer since Sunday evening when a youth, Tariq Ahmad, allegedly arrested by the police Special Operations Group (SOG) on July 18, was found dead inside the police custody. The police, however, claimed the youth was a Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) operative and committed suicide inside the Panzala police station on Sunday. The authorities, in the wake of protests by the locals, who allege Ahmad died of torture in the custody, suspended three policemen for 'dereliction of duty'. 'A magisterial inquiry into the death has been ordered. The sub-divisional magistrate, Sopore, has been appointed as an inquiry officer,' said Baramulla deputy commissioner Baramulla Bashir Ahmad Bhat. Moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has condemned the Rafiabad 'killing'. 'The killing (of the youth) in Rafiabad is highly condemnable and a worst act of state terrorism. I call upon international human rights bodies to intervene and stop killings in Kashmir by security forces…these bodies should also ensure safety and safe release of more than 800 youth rounded up by the security forces in the recent agitation,' said Farooq in a press statement. Besides north Kashmir's Baramulla and Sopore areas, there was heavy security arrangements in south and central Kashmir too where security forces were present in strength to foil any attempt to organize protests. Severe restrictions were imposed at many sensitive places where no vehicular or pedestrian movement was allowed by the security forces donning riot gear. Kashmir entered into the fifth week of unrest, protests and security restrictions. On June 11, the killing of a boy in a police firing sparked off a spate of clashes that left 17 people dead till date. The Hurriyat has called for five day shutdown and protests this week.