Despite Eid al-Adha, Kashmir remains tense as encounter in Poonch continues

Kashmir remained shut for the 66th day with authorities deploying security personnel in Srinagar and other places in the Valley to maintain law and order on Monday.

FP Staff September 12, 2016 11:27:27 IST
Despite Eid al-Adha, Kashmir remains tense as encounter in Poonch continues

Normal life remained affected for the 66th consecutive day on Monday in violence-hit Kashmir, where authorities imposed restrictions on the movement and assembly of people in some areas on the eve of Eid al-Adha.

A senior police official told IANS, "Restrictions have been imposed in Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama districts."

The Valley will remain shut despite Eid celebrations on Tuesday, the official added. Two of the most sought after food items on Eid, mutton and bakery remained unavailable to the people of the Valley.

Educational institutions, main markets, public transport and other businesses remained suspended. A total of 80 people have died and around 11,500 others injured in the ongoing unrest that started in Srinagar on 9 July.

Restrictions have been imposed in some of the towns in Kashmir as well as in three police station areas of Srinagar, a police official said.

He said restrictions have been imposed in the towns of Ganderbal, Kupwara, Baramulla, Budgam, Shopian, Kulgam, Pulwama and Anantnag. The curbs have also been imposed in Khanyar, Nowhatta and M R Gunj police station areas of Srinagar city, the official said, adding the step has been taken to maintain law and order. The separatists have extended the shutdown programme till September 16.

They have called for a march towards the local office of United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) on Eid al-adha on Tuesday.

Schools, colleges and other educational institutions in the Valley continued to remain closed. Some of the areas in the outskirts and civil lines of Srinagar witnessed increased movement of private vehicles and auto-rickshaws this morning, while some shops selling essentials were also open in view of the festival.

Few bakery and mutton shops were open at some places in the Valley where people were seen shopping for the items, the official said.

The CRPF said five of its personnel were injured in stone pelting incidents since Sunday.

"5 CRPF personnel injured and 2 CRPF vehicle damaged in 18 incidents of stone pelting involving the Force in the Kashmir valley in past 24 hrs," the force tweeted.

Poonch encounter still on

Gunfight erupted again on Monday morning in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district, the same place where four persons were killed on Sunday, police said. A senior police official told IANS that the gunfight started again from the under construction mini secretariat building in Poonch town, the site of Sunday's firing.

"The building and adjacent areas were surrounded and exchange of fire were continuing between the security forces and some surviving militants still holed up in the building," the official said.

The victims comprised three militants and a policeman, while five others — a police official, a civilian and three soldiers — were injured.

The encounters between security forces and the militants, who were holed up in a house and another structure near the under-construction Mini Secretariat, erupted at around 7.30 on Sunday morning and continued through the day.

"Three militants have been knocked down. The civilians, who were held hostage, have been safely evacuated. Operation is still on," Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Rajouri-Poonch range Johny Willian had told PTI on Sunday.

Despite Eid alAdha Kashmir remains tense as encounter in Poonch continues

A security personnel takes position near a building where terrorists were hiding during an encounter near the under construction mini-secretariat at Allah Pir area in Poonch on Sunday. PTI

A policeman Rajinder Kumar was killed in the incident. Two Army jawans, two police jawans and a civilian were also injured. One of the injured is sub inspector of Special Operation Group (SoG) Manzoor Hussain and another a civilian Tariq, police said, adding the injured have been hospitalised.

The authorities used drones to track down the militants who had taken shelter inside a house where an elderly couple lived and another structure. The couple was safely evacuated. Inspector General of Police (IGP) Jammu Zone Danish Rana said body of one of the militants was recovered and others are being recovered.

"The cordon in the area will remain intact till Monday as operation is on," Rana added. Earlier, state police chief Rajendera Kumar said, "Four militants are involved in the two encounters at two different locations."

"They (militants) are in a house, where there is a civilian couple. Forces are retrieving them. we have to evacuate the civilians first," he said. The encounters started when the militants started firing from near the Mini Secretariat building, which is under construction, close to Army's 93 Brigade headquarters, police said.

The attackers then barged into a house in Allah Pir locality and another structure near the mini secretariat. Defence spokesman said a firefight between security forces and terrorists erupted this early morning when a JKP patrol encountered terrorists on the fringes of border town of Poonch.

Army units deployed in the area immediately reacted with quick reaction teams, on receiving the information, the spokesman said, adding that after initial brief exchange of fire, the terrorists took shelter in an isolated house and under construction mini secretariat building.

"In initial exchange of fire, one police jawan was martyred and one received injuries. One civilian also got injured and has been evacuated to District Hospital, Poonch. The encounter is continuing and the area has been cordoned. "Efforts are on to neutralize holed up terrorists with minimum collateral damage," the spokesman said.

'Go after those instigating the youths'

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday had directed the security forces to go after those instigating youths to indulge in violence in Kashmir and try to bring back normalcy in the state within a week.

The directive was given during an hour-long meeting the Home Minister had with top security officials, including National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval, besides others.

Sources said the home minister conveyed that the security forces must go after the instigators of the violence in Kashmir Valley and book them as they continue to disrupt normal life. Meanwhile, four terrorists who were trying to sneak into India via the Line of Control (LoC) were killed on Sunday as the army foiled three infiltration attempts in Kashmir.

One infiltration bid was foiled in Naugam sector, another in Tangdhar sector and the third one in Gurez sector.

Pakistan special envoy briefs leadership over Kashmir issue

Pakistan, meanwhile, said that its special envoy on Kashmir met UN high commissioner for human rights in Geneva and briefed him over the alleged human rights violations on the Indian side of the restive state. Sardar Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari, special envoy of the Prime Minister on Jammu and Kashmir and Chairman Standing Committee of National Assembly on Foreign Affairs met Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein as part of Pakistan's efforts to highlight the issue of Kashmir.

Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement that Leghari briefed UN High Commissioner "about the ongoing critical human rights situation in Kashmir, underscoring that the matter was of great concern to all Pakistanis." It said that High Commissioner Zeid thanked the Special Envoy for his visit to Geneva and for briefing him on "the human rights situation."

"He assured the special envoy that his office was carefully observing the situation in the area and was in contact with both India and Pakistan in this regard," the Foreign Office said. The envoy asked the high commissioner to take concrete measures to immediately end violence in Kashmir.

The envoy said that India should fulfil its human rights commitments under the UNSC resolutions and international human rights obligations.

Leghari is one of 22 envoys appointed by Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif to brief the international community about the situation in Kashmir.

With inputs from agencies

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