Strict curfew continued on Sunday in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the violence that has paralysed the volatile state for 10 days now.
"Curfew shall continue in all the 10 districts of the Valley," a senior police official said. "Security forces have been instructed to allow movement of patients along with their attendants." Twenty additional companies of CRPF were also rushed to Kashmir on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the death toll reached 41 on Saturday after an unruly mob torched a police picket in north Kashmir's Kupwara district. The police responded by opening fire at the mob. The turmoil in Kashmir started after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces on 8 July.
The curfew is accompanied by a suspension of all vernacular and English daily publications. The Mehbooba Mufti government clamped down on press offices on Friday night in an attempt to block news and information to contain the violence brewing in the state.
The police raided the offices of major newspapers in Srinagar and shut down a major printing press in Srinagar.
Although the authorities took away the printing plates of the newspaper, the e-paper has been uploaded. The publishers on their websites have claimed that their print copies were seized and people working for the printing press were also arrested.
Mobile phone operations without any internet facility have resumed on post paid mobile phones provided by the BSNL. Internet services remained suspended in most parts of Kashmir on Sunday. After nine days, cable TV services, except the Pakistani channels, were restored on Saturday.
Violent protests have been witnessed in Baramulla and Bandipora districts where several persons have been injured. The decision to impose the curfew was taken in view of large number of stone-pelting incidents across the Valley.
The separatist groups – Hurriyat Conference and JKLF – have been issuing strike calls and have extended their latest strike till Monday. Senior separatist leaders including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Muhammad Yasin Malik, Shabir Ahmad Shah and others have been either placed under house arrest or taken into preventive custody to restrain them from participating in protests.
Burhan Wani is seen as more dangerous dead than alive. His death provoked such violent reaction from the people of Kashmir that it poses a huge test for the Mufti government, as Aijaz Nazir points out in this Firstpost piece.
Burhan was considered the poster boy of Kashmir’s new-age militancy. Even the leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) Hafiz Saeed warned that violence will escalate in India-ruled Kashmir following his death.
The death has intensified the freedom struggle in the India-occupied part of Kashmir. Young boys were seen shouting anti-India and pro-azaadi slogans. "Burhan has become a youth icon in recent years for Kashmir’s freedom struggle. This is for the first time that rural areas of south Kashmir have come out in open to support the azaadi," Nazir quotes Mohammad Aamir from Anantnag in his article.
It is interesting to note that areas which remained peaceful even in the 2010 agitation in Kashmir, when the Army claimed to have killed three Pakistani infiltrators which later turned out to be a fake encounter, witnessed a series of protests in 2016.
Burhan’s popularity and charm has enamored many even as the PDP became unpopular in the state after forming an alliance with the BJP, David Devadas wrote in a Firstpost article.
The Centre also starved its own state government of funds which further tainted the reputation of the PDP.
Videos and pictures of Burhan went viral on the internet and he became a household face. Youth immediately identified with him. Kashmiris assert that he was 'pure' – celibate, without any vices, leave alone addictions, writes Devadas. According to him, the Kashmiris remember him as “one of us” even though he became a “heroic ideal.”
It was because of him that the youth associated militancy with familiar and happy spaces instead of a dark esoteric world. Senior separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani blamed the “pro-Indian” forces for the violence and bloodshed in the state.
According to him, the new generation of Kashmir was sensitive and more politically aware and are facing “brutal forces fearlessly”.
He accused the Indian government for creating Burhan Wanis. "India shows no respect for humanity, fundamental rights of Kashmiris," he said.
The situation was possibly exacerbated by Pakistan calling Burhan a “freedom fighter”. It also accused Indian security forces of committing “state-terrorism” in Kashmir. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared 19 July to be observed as “Black Day” in view of the violence simmering in the state.
— News18 (@CNNnews18) July 15, 2016
Pakistan's demand for a “fair and impartial” plebiscite to resolve the Kashmir dispute seems a little opportunistic.
Political parties too reacted differently to the unrest which has been brewing in Kashmir.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi said that the mishandling of the situation in the state by the Narendra Modi government has led to political turmoil.
CPI and MIM urged the Centre to order a judicial probe into the matter and call an all-party meet to discuss the issue.
UN chief Ban Ki-Moon called on all parties to exercise “maximum restraint” to avoid further violence.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to maintain peace and calm.
It remains to be seen if the situation in the state will worsen in the coming days, possibly instigated to some extent by Pakistan or the violence will wither away.
Whatever the situation might be, Burhan and his death has left a permanent imprint on the people of Kashmir and the anger accumulated over the years might burst soon.
With input from agencies.