Restrictions re-imposed in Handwara
Handwara, the epicentre of the ongoing unrest in Kashmir, and its adjoining areas continued to witness trouble even on Monday, prompting the re-imposition of curfew-like restrictions after a three-hour relaxation. However, mobile Internet services were restored after a four-day suspension.
As the cycle of violence showed no signs of stopping, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti appealed to people to help restore peace, promising severe punishment to those found guilty in Handwara and Kupwara incidents during which five civilians were killed in firing by security forces.
Authorities on Monday gave a three-hour relaxation from curfew-like restrictions in Handwara town in Kupwara district and adjoining areas from 8 am to 11 am, with an intention of extending it if the period passed off peacefully.
However, the relaxation period saw around 150 men pelting stones in Handwara town, a police official said. “The protestors were chased away and there was no damage,” he said, adding that the curbs were then re-imposed.
“Restrictions were imposed again in Handwara, Trehgam and Kralgund areas of Kupwara district, following violent protests,” the official said.
In Srinagar, a group of students at the Kashmir University staged a protest on the Hazratbal campus against the killings in Handwara and Kupwara towns, the official said.
He said some students also organised a similar protest at the Islamic University of Science and Technology in Awantipora area of Pulwama district.
At both the universities, the students dispersed peacefully.
The authorities also restored mobile Internet services across the Valley after four days. The decision to restore the mobile Internet services was taken as there was no major incident of protest or violence across Kashmir on Sunday.
Handwara town in North Kashmir and some adjoining areas have been under curfew-like restrictions since last Tuesday, following allegations of molestation of a girl which triggered violence.
Three persons, including a woman, were killed in firing by security forces on protestors last Tuesday, while two more were killed in another action against protestors on Wednesday at Drugmulla and on Friday at Nathnusa.
The Chief Minister, who was in Jammu, underlined the need for peace and tranquility in the state, saying these are a prerequisite for development and if they are absent, it is the common people who bear the burden. “I appeal to my people, especially to the youth, that wherever there is injustice, strict action would be taken and severe punishment would be given,” she said.
Mufti added: “If there is peace, there will be development, happiness, tourism and people will lead a prosperous life. And if God forbid, there is no peace, our people would be the worst sufferers. That is why I appeal to the youth, their parents and families to help us in restoring peace in Jammu and Kashmir so that the state can develop and the miseries of the state should go away.”
Deputy CM Nirmal Singh alleged that there was a conspiracy behind the recent spurt of violence in the Valley. “Definitely there is a conspiracy to disturb peace in areas like Kupwara and Handwara. These areas remained peaceful when there was turmoil in other parts (of the Valley). The anti-national elements have succeeded in creating a rumour, which ultimately led to the unfortunate situation (violence).”
He said the aspirations of the people would be fulfilled only when there is peace in the state and it was the duty of every person to maintain peace. “We went to Handwara with the Chief Minister and definitely tension is there. Kupwara is a peaceful area. The violence is very unfortunate. The government is ensuring that this type of situation does not arise in future,” he said.