Curfew continues for fourth day in Kashmir


Srinagar: There were no newspapers, internet or cable television in the Kashmir Valley as curfew continued uninterrupted for the fourth day Tuesday to prevent violence in the wake of Afzal Guru being executed in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail.

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As tension continued in the Valley, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said he would help arrange a visit for Afzal Guru’s family to offer prayers at his grave in the jail premises. Afzal Guru, who belonged to Sopore, was hanged Saturday for his role in the 2001 attack on parliament.

Abdullah told a radio channel Monday evening that he would do everything possible to help Afzal Guru’s family if they approached him.

Security personnel have been given strict orders to exercise maximum restraint while handling the law and order situation in the Valley, the chief minster said.

Three people have died during protests in the Kashmir Valley after news of December 2001 Indian parliament attack plotter’s hanging spread here.

Residents in Batwina village of north Kashmir’s Ganderbal district said two youths drowned after they were chased by the security forces during protests, while police said the deaths had occurred because of a boat capsize in the Jhelum river.

A teenaged boy belonging to Watergam (Rafiabad) area of Baramulla district succumbed to critical injuries in a city hospital Monday morning.

He had reportedly sustained a bullet injury from the security forces during protests in the village.

Another injured youth is battling for life in Srinagar’s super specialty Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences Soura.

The state government has ordered a magisterial probe into both these incidents and ex-gratia relief to the next of kin of the deceased person.

For the third day Tuesday Kashmir went without any print editions of the local newspapers.

Local editors told IANS they had been unofficially told by the authorities to suspend publications of their newspapers till Friday.

“If this has been done to check the spread of wild rumours then it is a very bad decision,” said Bashir Manzar, editor of daily ‘Kashmir Images’.

Cable television operations and internet facilities also remained shut in the summer capital Srinagar, although BSNL broadband users said their facility was still working.

Those using dongle appliances and mobile phones to access the internet have been unable to do so for the last four days.

A senior police officer said curfew imposed Saturday would remain in place till further orders.

Asked whether the authorities were planning some relaxation in the imposed curfew, the officer said the situation was being monitored on a regular basis.

Authorities have made announcements through the local radio and television broadcasts that additional round-the-clock ambulances were available to ferry sick people to hospitals from areas under curfew.

Security forces have been advised to treat the identity cards of those maintaining essential services like healthcare, water supplies and electricity as curfew passes and allow their movements through those areas.

The separatist Hurriyat group headed by Syed Ali Geelani has asked people to continue the protest shutdown till Friday when a march to the Eidgah grounds has been announced.

“We will demand that the mortal remains of Afzal Guru be returned to his family,” a spokesperson of the group told media here.

All examinations and interviews scheduled to be held here up to Feb 17 have been postponed by the authorities.

Reports here indicate 14 companies of the Border Security Force (BSF) and 10 additional companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been rushed to assist the state administration in maintaining law and order.