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Govt's best laid plans fail: Kashmir situation worsens, toll rises to 41

Catch Team | Updated on: 15 July 2016, 23:08 IST
The plans
  • The J&K govt had put in place unprecedented security plans to foil the separatists\' call for Friday protests
  • It placed many separatist leaders under house arrest, and didn\'t allow Friday prayers at major mosques
  • The plans came to nought as the violence continued in Kashmir, as the death toll climbed to 41
More in the story
  • Details of the latest spate of violence in the aftermath of militant Burhan Wani\'s encounter
  • Pakistani reactions to the incidents in Kashmir
  • Kashmiri IAS officer Shah Faesal reacts to being used as a \'propaganda\' tool

The security plans put in place by the Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday, 15 July, was unprecedented. The government wanted to foil the separatists' call for protests.

But like the proverbial 'best laid plans of mice and men', the government's plans went awry. No amount of planning could stop furious protests and violence from breaking out at many places.

According to the latest reports, the death toll in the spate of violence triggered after the encounter of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani has now reached 41.

Preemptive measures

Separatist groups, who have forged an ad-hoc united front to steer the ongoing turmoil over Burhan's death, had asked imams to speak against 'Indian repression' in their Friday sermons, and later lead azadi protests.

The government expected a massive public groundswell, forcing it to undertake drastic preemptive measures to stop any gathering.

The authorities placed separatist leaders under house arrest, and almost all major urban centres, highways and even parts of the countryside were locked down. All internet and phone services, except BSNL, were snapped, while prayers at major mosques were also disallowed.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq were not allowed to attend Friday prayers at mosques. Srinagar's Grand Mosque, where Mirwaiz delivers Friday sermons, was locked to prevent prayers.

Srinagar's Grand Mosque, where Mirwaiz delivers Friday sermons, was locked to prevent prayers

In Srinagar, forces were deployed in great numbers to thwart attempts by youth to take out protest marches. Barbed wires were strung across major road intersections, and at the entry point into the city, to prevent the assembly of people.

The authorities also stopped people from the adjoining areas from attending the Friday congregation at the Hazratbal shrine, one of the valley's most venerable religious sites. Worshippers there were also denied the use of the loudspeaker during the prayers. Just around 300 people are estimated to have offered namaz at the shrine.

The chief cleric of the shrine, Muhammad Sayed Farooqui, however, denounced civilian killings in his sermon.

Violence across the valley

In Yaripora Kulgam, the militants lobbed a grenade and fired at the local police station following a short spell of stone throwing by youth. One youth, Sayar Ahmad, was killed and five others were reportedly injured in the attack, while one policeman also lost his life.

In areas around Sopore and Kupwara, army camps and police stations came under attack from mobs consisting of villagers. One Mushtaq Ahmad Ganaie, 18, lost his life, while many others are reported to be injured, three of them critically.

Four persons injured by pellet gun fire in the Sopore area were shifted to Srinagar's SMHS hospital.

In Tral, Burhan's hometown, thousands of people defied the curfew to visit the local Eidgah to pay tributes to the militant.

In Tral, Burhan's hometown, thousands defied the curfew to visit the local Eidgah and pay tributes

In Parimpora, on the outskirts of Srinagar, protesters set ablaze a personal vehicle of a J&K Police constable. Clashes also erupted at the south Srinagar locality of Shivpora.

Two siblings, Hilal Lone and Sajad Lone, were injured when forces fired upon them at Khitengan Pattan in north Kashmir. The injured were hospitalised.

In a first since the outbreak of the separatist movement since 1989, authorities also imposed curfew in Pahalgam, the valley's famous tourist spot, and also a base camp for Amarnath yatris.

Protests also spread to Muslim-dominated parts of Jammu. Kishtwar observed a shutdown, and protests were organised at Mandi in Poonch.

New trend

In Kashmir, a substantial component of the ongoing unrest has emanated from areas in the countryside, which have rarely been sites of the protest in the past.

"It is the protesters from these areas who have attempted to attack army camps and police stations, while the habitual stone throwers from urban areas don't do this," said a police officer. "It is difficult to explain this behaviour. A significant number of those who attack security installations are first-time protesters."

Pakistani reaction worrisome

Reports are pouring in that solidarity rallies are being held in Pakistan. The country has decided to observe 19 July as a black day "against Indian barbarism in Occupied Kashmir", which is why the ongoing mobilisation in the valley looks set to continue.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held a special cabinet meeting in Lahore on Friday to discuss the situation in Kashmir. He termed the "movement of Kashmiris as a movement of freedom", and also declared Burhan a martyr.

However, the development which is worrying the security and political establishment most in Kashmir is the discussion on Kashmir in the Corps Commanders' Conference at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

In a statement issued at the conference, Pakistan's powerful army chief, General Raheel Sharif, condemned the "brutal killings of innocent Kashmiri youth" by India.

"The fresh unrest in the valley over the death of a local militant commander bears all the hallmarks of an indigenous Kashmiri struggle Pakistan desperately seeks," said a police officer. "There could now be an attempt to strengthen and provide arms to the local militants, something that wasn't the case for some years now. And should that happen, the number of local militants could rise substantially, leading to more violence."

IAS Shah Faesal's displeasure

Meanwhile, Shah Faesal, an IAS officer from Kashmir, has expressed his displeasure at being made part of a 'sadistic propaganda machine' by sections of the media.

Faesal's displeasure comes after the picture below, favourably comparing him to Burhan Wani, had been doing the rounds of social media for the last few days, and was also picked up by some media outlets.

Sourced from Facebook

Faesal expressed his anger through the following Facebook post.

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

More in Catch

Burhan Wani, poster boy of Kashmir's new militancy, killed in encounter

The Burhan effect: will his death dampen armed militancy?

India warns Pakistan as Nawaz Sharif, Hafiz Saeed support Burhan Wani

First published: 15 July 2016, 23:08 IST