Curfew-like situation in Kashmir

Srinagar, Feb 25 : Curfew-like situation prevailed in the Kashmir valley on Wednesday as authorities imposed stringent restrictions on the movement of people to prevent separatists from staging protest rallies and demonstrations on the fourth day ceremony of two youths killed in the alleged Army firing last week.

Thousands of police and paramilitary forces' personnel have been deployed here and other major towns of the valley as the separatists had called for observance of a general strike to protest against the "cold-blooded" murder of two youths in Sopore town of north Kashmir on Saturday.

Mohammad Amin Tantray and Javid Ahmad were killed and another youth, Firdous Ahmad, was injured in a firing incident at Bumai-Sopore, 55 km from here, sparking off massive protest demonstrations, prompting authorities to impose curfew in the
town on Sunday.

The state government has already ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident while Army has also ordered a court of inquiry. While locals alleged that the troops of 22 Rashtriya Rifles opened indiscriminate fire on the group of youth without any provocation, Army maintains that the two youths were killed in cross-fire between the security forces and militants.

In the wake of restrictions imposed by the administration and strike call by separatists, all shops and business establishments, government offices, banks, courts and semi-government institutions remained closed, officials said.

All modes of transport, including state road transport corporation buses, were off the roads in Srinagar and all district headquarters, including Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Budgam, Ganderbal, Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam.

The hardline faction of Hurriyat Conference, led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, had given a call for strike and peaceful protests against the killing of the two youths. The call was supported by another separatist groups.

Government employees and residents alleged that security personnel were not allowing them to come out of their houses as if curfew had been imposed.

"Police vehicles fitted with public address system made a round of the city in the wee hours asking people not to venture out of their houses as curfew has been imposed", residents claimed.

Police, however, denied any report of curfew being imposed, saying security forces have been given strict orders not to allow gathering of four or more people at any place as section 144 of the CrPC was in force.