Clashes Continue in Kashmir as Army Begins Operation 'Calm Down'

Curfew remained in place in all ten districts of Kashmir, while additional troops have been moved in south Kashmir for operation 'Calm Down.'

Two youth were killed and more than 150 people injured in clashes in Kashmir on Eid, yesterday, as the state called one of the strictest curfew that Kashmir has ever witnessed, prohibiting prayers at many of the major mosques and Eidgahs. The valley remained in turmoil for the 68th day, following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Wani in July. Many believe that Kashmir has not witnessed this kind of unrest since the 1990s.

Greater Kashmir reported that curfew remained in place in all ten districts of the Valley, even as leaders of the protest gave a call for ‘UN chalo’. Owing to the curfew, prayers for Eid could not be offered at the Hazrat Syed Yaqoob Sahib shrine in Sonwar area of Srinagar near the UN office, where the entrances were allegedly sealed by security forces. All roads leading to Dargah Hazratbal and Jamia Masjid in Srinagar were also sealed by the authorities, fearing protests would follow prayers. The Hurriyat leadership had asked the people to march towards the UN office to demand a resolution for Kashmir.

Several clashes were reported from all over the Valley, including from Handwara, Kulgam and Anantnag. Troops had allegedly barged into homes in the Bijbehara area in Anantnag as well, injuring at least twenty four.

One of the people killed yesterday was Mustafa Ahmad Mir, who was hit by a teargas shell in Bandipora, in north Kashmir. The second to die, yesterday, was Shahid Ahmad Seh, of Nagbal village in Shopian, who succumbed to pellet injuries. Four people were reportedly injured in clashes that erupted in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district. Clashes were also reported in Kokernag area where witnesses claim that at least 20 youth were injured in Vailoo, a village in the area. The village of Dooru witnessed a pro-freedom demonstration which led to clashes erupting there as well.

Special prayers were offered for Eid namaz at the at the Jama Masjid Kargil, Islamia School, Majid Noorbakshia and Eidgah, for peace in the Valley. Two large congregations were addressed. Thousands of people staged protests in Banihal, on the Srinagar-Jammu highway, following the prayers, against the civilian killings in Kashmir. The protestors raised azadi slogans and reportedly dispersed. Mobile internet services remained suspended int he Valley.

Operation ‘Calm Down’

According to PTI, three additional infantry battalions were moved to south Kashmir, as part of operation ‘Calm Down’ to clear Kashmir of militants and protestors. Nearly 4,000 additional troops were called into service to help restore normalcy to the Valley, but with clear instruction to use ‘minimum force’.

The troops have been spread around all four districts of south Kashmir: Pulwama, Shopian, Anantnag and Kulgam. This region witnessed the most violence, perhaps because it was the region that Wani hailed from. The troops are combing the region minutely to remove road blocks placed by protestors by felling trees and electric poles. The Karimabad area has reportedly been cleared, while Shopian and Kulgam are next. More troops are likely to be moved into the region.

The decision was allegedly triggered by rumours of youth patrolling the areas and arterial roads, armed with batons, stones and petrol bombs, preventing people from venturing into Srinagar. Reports suggest that around 100 militants had crossed into south Kashmir since Wani’s death.

The troops have been mobilised because of suspected militant hideouts in the region.

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