30 dead, 1,300 injured in spiralling Kashmir violence, curfew on for 4th day
At least 30 people have died and more than 1,000 injured in spiralling violence in Jammu and Kashmir following Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s death last Friday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi summoning a meeting on Tuesday to review the volatile situation in the valley.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh, defence minister Manohar Parrikar and other senior officials attended the meeting to discuss ways to end the protests that have paralysed normal life amid curfew-like restrictions and a separatists-sponsored strike.
The PM, who returned from his four-nation five-day tour of Africa on Tuesday, was given a detailed presentation on the situation in the valley.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh also postponed his five-day visit to the United States to attend the Indo-US homeland security dialogue scheduled for next week.
A home ministry official cited the busy schedule during the coming monsoon session of Parliament beginning July 18 as the reason for the deferment of the visit.
Sources said tension in the valley after Wani’s killing could be the other key factor behind the postponement of the home minister’s visit to America. New dates have not been fixed but the trip now may take place sometime in September, the official said.
Mounting death toll
According to independent sources and local newspapers, nine more people, including a woman and a teenager, succumbed to their injuries on Monday.
Police and the government, however, insisted “only 22” people, including a cop, have died in the four-day unrest.
Officials said two more men died during police action - one due drowning after being chased and another as his car overturned while he was fleeing from a violent spot. They said most of the deaths took place on the first day of protests after Wani’s death.
“There was indiscriminate firing in many areas on that day,’’ a PDP leader, who did not want to be named, said.
He said CRPF patrol parties fired at people after they were attacked by mobs.
“They were taken by surprise but from the second day there was a strict guideline to follow the SOP,’’ he added.
While 12 men died on Saturday as the violence spiralled, five others succumbed to injuries between Saturday night and Sunday morning. Four others were killed in firing incidents by forces on Sunday. One cop was killed after a violent mob pushed him into a gushing tributary of the Jhelum.
Local newspapers and agencies have listed the names of all the 30 who died in the violence.
According to local news agencies, the highest number of casualties in south Kashmir are from Anantnag district so far—15 (14 civilians and a policeman), followed by Kulgam (7); Shopian (4) and Pulwama (3). One death was reported in Srinagar.
Officials also said at least 1,365 people have been injured in clashes, out of which 279 have been shifted to tertiary care hospitals in Srinagar. Divisional commissioner Asghar Samoon confirmed the numbers to KNS, a local news agency.
Mehbooba calls for peace
Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has sought the cooperation of the people in the restoration of normalcy in Kashmir to prevent further loss of lives and destruction of public and private properties. She said ministers and other government functionaries have been asked to reach out to people.
“The ministers will remain stationed at the district headquarters to monitor the situation and reach out to the people. They will also monitor the day-to-day situation personally,” she said
According to reports, senior PDP minister Abdul Rehman Veeri and finance minister Haseeb Drabu will visit south Kashmir on Tuesday to hold meetings with civil society and officials.
“I salute the people of Kashmir for upholding the highest traditions of communal harmony and hospitality in the prevailing situation,” Mehbooba said hailing the people of the state for extending help to the Amarnath Yatris and tourists.
The annual Amarnath Yatra, which was suspended after Wani’s death, resumed on Monday from Bhagwati Nagar base camp in Jammu as pilgrims moved in convoys under CRPF protection.
Around 20,000 pilgrims were left stranded in Jammu and Kashmir’s winter capital following the volatile situation in the valley.