Separatist shutdown, restrictions paralyses Kashmir (Lead)

July 18th, 2010 - 9:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar/Baramulla, July 18 (IANS) A shutdown called by separatists and restrictions imposed by authorities paralysed life in Srinagar Sunday, a day after normalcy was restored following 12 days of turmoil. Baramulla town was tense after a boy drowned while allegedly being chased by security men.
In Baramulla residents alleged a Class 7 student, identified as Faizan Ahmad Buhroo, drowned in the Jhelum river after being chased by security forces.

Security personnel had reportedly chased a stone-pelting mob at Azadgunj Bridge in the town Saturday evening. The teenager, who was among the mob, jumped into the river to escape security forces, reports said.

Baramulla administration sought the help of army divers Sunday afternoon to fish out the body of the teenager.

“Army divers have been pressed into service to look for the body,” a senior police officer told IANS over phone from Baramulla.

The divers conducted searches in the Jhelum river downstream from Azadgunj Bridge in the town, from where the boy had reportedly jumped into the water, reports said.

“So far, we haven’t met any success, but the search is going on,” said another official of the Baramulla district administration.

Irate youth attacked police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) contingents deployed to enforce restrictions in the town following tension triggered in the town over the reported drowning of the youth.

District Magistrate (Baramulla) Bashir Ahmad Bhat told reporters: “Circumstances leading to the boy’s drowning will be thoroughly probed once we recover his body.”

In the neighbouring Sopore town, which is the hotbed of separatist violence, authorities Sunday imposed restrictions to maintain law and order.

Life was paralyzed as the hardline separatist Hurriyat group headed by Syed Ali Geelani called for a valley-wide shutdown Sunday to protest alleged human rights violations by security forces in Kashmir.

The shutdown was part of the group’s continuing “Quit Kashmir” programme.

“Restrictions have been imposed in Srinagar’s Old City areas and uptown Maisuma, Batmaloo and Humhama localities to prevent violence,” a police officer said here early this morning.

Police and CRPF contingents moved out early morning to enforce restrictions in the city.

Traffic intersections were blocked with coils of razor-fitted wire in the Old City and in Maisuma and Batmaloo areas. Both vehicular and pedestrian movement has been disallowed by security forces.

The Kashmir Valley witnessed normalcy Saturday after 12 days of separatist shutdowns and official restrictions. Hundreds of vehicles were seen on Srinagar roads. Traffic jams were reported in some areas.

People came out in large numbers Saturday to buy essential items fearing another spell of shutdowns and restrictions.

Fourteen civilians have been killed across the Valley since June 11 in incidents of firing by security forces at stone-pelting mobs.

The state government has decided to conduct an independent enquiry into the circumstances leading to the civilian deaths.

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