Death toll rises to seven, curfew continues in Valley

August 26th, 2008 - 9:32 am ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Aug 26 (IANS) Authorities decided to continue curfew restrictions in all ten district headquarters in Kashmir Valley even as the death toll in Monday’s violence rose to seven.An indefinite curfew was imposed across the Valley since 4 a.m. Sunday to thwart the proposed separatist march and sit-in at city centre Lal Chowk scheduled yesterday.

Three senior separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik, were arrested to prevent their participation in the march. Authorities said they were arrested as they feared they might be targeted by “vested interests” during the march.

After a massive show of strength last Friday at the Eidgah grounds where tens of thousands offered prayers, it was believed that the Lal Chowk march would be joined by an equal number of protesters if not more.

“We had credible inputs that the senior separatist leaders would be targeted by vested interests during the Lal Chowk march,” an official statement issued in the wake of Sunday’s curfew imposition had said.

There were scores of curfew violations across the Valley yesterday and the security forces after failing to quell the mobs fired at them at Hajin in north Kashmir Bandipora district, at Narbal on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road in Srinagar district, at Tahab in Pulwama district, and Handwara in Kupwara district.

Four persons including a women died in the Hajin firing incident while 12 persons are still being treated in hospitals for bullet injuries. One girl was killed in the Handwara firing incident even though the authorities here said she was “hit by a stray bullet after ricochet since it was fired by the security forces distant away from the place where it hit the girl”.

One protesters was killed in the Tahab (Pulwama) firing while at least seven there sustained bullet injuries. About 70 protesters and security men were injured.

The spokesman of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Prabhakar Tripathi, denied media reports that one security personnel had died after having been fired upon by somebody from the mob at Hajin.

The incident had been earlier confirmed by the CRPF control room in Srinagar.

Commenting on the overall situation in the Valley, state director general of police, Kuldeep Khoda told IANS: “The situation is well under control. There have been some incidents of curfew defiance by small mobs in some places, but Srinagar city which had been the centre of violent protests during the last ten days was totally peaceful barring a few incidents of stone pelting by children.

“Our orders are clear to the deployed security men, use of maximum restraint and minimum force.

“The curfew was imposed to maintain law and order which will be lifted once it is not required to protect the life and property of the people”.

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