Valley On The Boil: Censorship, Curfew, Protests And Deaths

Valley On The Boil: Censorship, Curfew, Protests And Deaths

11 February 2013
Times of India
M. Saleem Pandit

Srinagar: Kashmir Valley remained cut off with internet and TV services suspended for the third straight day on Monday but a tight security clampdown and a blanket curfew failed to prevent protesters taking to the streets at several places resulting in clashes with security forces that left at least three people dead. Anger over Afzal Guru's hanging coincided with 29th execution day of JKLF founder leader Maqbool Bhat, hailed by separatists as a martyr. The most violent clashes were in Sumbal in Bandipora district of north Kashmir and Watergam in Baramulla district from where two deaths were reported. Police, however, said the two had drowned in the Jhelum river during a clash with the security forces. The third fatality was that of Ubaid Ahmad, who died in hospital a day after he was injured during a clash in Watergam on Sunday. Police and paramilitary forces stopped every private car for checking at barricades in several areas of Sopore, Baramulla and Sumbal area. Strict restrictions were placed in Srinagar's Maisuma area, where the JKLF office is located, owing to the death anniversary of Bhat, hanged to death in Delhi's Tihar Jail for killing a bank manager. Bhat was buried inside the Delhi jail; his family is still asking for the body to be handed over to them to carry out the last rites. Just like on Sunday, no local or national newspaper was available in the Valley on Monday. While national newspapers could not reach the stands due to curfew, local dailies could not be published due to police instructions. The newspaper managements accused the authorities of denying them permission to publish. It was another tough day for those in need of medical attention. Reports said people across Kashmir - and villagers especially - suffered due to the non-availability of doctors and medical staff at government health care centres. Also, private doctors practising at local medical shops were not available to treat patients. Patients were unable to reach even prominent hospitals - such as Srinagar's main Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, SMHS, G B Pant Hospital for Children and Lal Ded Maternity Hospital - due to curfew restrictions in various places, a doctor at SMHS said. Doctors blamed the authorities for not issuing curfew passes that would have enabled them to reach hospitals or private clinics. Neither were curfew passes given to journalists or those involved in ensuring the supply of essential services such as electricity and water supply. Some reports said the curfew had also started hurting the availability of vegetables and other eatables in the Valley. Passengers reaching Srinagar by air struggled to reach their destinations due to the lack of transport.