Srinagar: Normal life was disrupted in Kashmir on the second death anniversary of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani on Sunday as separatists called for a strike while local police and central paramilitary forces enforced a security lockdown in major parts of Srinagar to hold back rallies and protests.
Tral, the hometown of Wani in southern Pulwama district, remained under curfew for the second day running whereas tension peaked in neighbouring Kulgam district after the killing of three young protesters, including a girl, in Army firing on Saturday.
The shutdown called by Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), an alliance of key separatist leaders, to commemorate Wani’s “martyrdom” brought life to a standstill. At places, including the university campus in Srinagar, protests were held during which the participants chanted pro-freedom slogans.
Mobile Internet services were blocked in most parts of the Kashmir Valley. Rail services also remained suspended for the second consecutive day. Separatist leaders and prominent activists were placed under house arrest or detained in police stations.
The authorities said that the overall situation remained “peaceful and under control” across the Valley and in Bhaderwah town of Chenab valley of Jammu where a shutdown on Burhan anniversary was observed.
Wani, the 22-year-old Internet savvy poster boy of the Hizb, was killed, along with two associates, by the Army in Kokernag area of Anantnag district on July 8, 2016, triggering widespread unrest in the Kashmir and parts of Chenab valley of the Jammu region during which more than 80 people were killed.
The travel by Amarnath pilgrims from Jammu was suspended for Sunday “as a precautionary measure”. The annual pilgrimage to the 3,888-metre-high revered cave-shrine in the Kashmir Himalayas entered its eleventh day on Sunday.
“No yatri movement was allowed today from Jammu’s Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas towards the Valley,” a police official said.
However, more than 10,000 pilgrims who had already reached the base-camps of Baltal and Pahalgam in the Valley began their walk through rugged hills towards the cave-shrine on Sunday morning.
A spokesman of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) said that the yatra continued “smoothly” on Pahalgam and Baltal routes. Also, the helicopter service operated as usual. In all 11,282 pilgrims paid obeisance at Amarnath during the day.
With these as many as 94,412 devotees have paid obeisance at the cave-shrine, so far. The two-month-long pilgrimage being held under tight security will end on August 26 coinciding with Shravan Purnima festival.
In anticipation of violence, the from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) along with J&K Police had ahead of the protest day sealed densely-populated areas of Srinagar and Tral by laying concertina barbed wire and placing bunker-vehicles on the roads.
An official spokesman said that restrictions were imposed in areas under the jurisdiction of Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, Maharaj Gunj and Safa Kadal police stations of central Srinagar whereas “partial restrictions” were in force in areas under the jurisdiction of Kralkhud and Maisuma police stations of the summer capital.