Shutdown affects life across Kashmir Valley, Kulgam sealed off to foil JRL solidarity

Life in Srinagar and other places of the Valley was affected on Thursday by a separatist-called shutdown protesting against militant killing.

The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) headed by Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Yasin Malik called for the Valley-wide shutdown against the killings of two Kashmiri militants in the outskirts here.

Sabzar Sofi, a PhD scholar who joined militancy in 2016, and his associate were killed in a gunfight in Nowgam on Wednesday.
Shops, public transport and other businesses remained shut in the city and other district headquarters of the Valley and only private transport was seen in the uptown areas here.

Schools and colleges in Srinagar district remained suspended for the second day in a row.

Rail services between north Kashmir’s Baramulla and Banihal town of Jammu region were also suspended.

Heavy deployment of security was made in the old city areas and other sensitive places in the Valley.

Geelani and Umer Farooq remained under house arrest for the third day while Malik continued in preventive custody to prevent their participation in the protests.

Meanwhile, Government forces were deployed in strength Wednesday and barricades put up on all roads leading to Kulgam, sealing off the district to foil a protest march called by the Joint Resistance Leadership.
The JRL, comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik, had appealed the people of southern Kashmir to march towards Kulgam in solidarity with the families of seven civilians killed in a blast at the site of an encounter in Laroo village on Sunday that also left three militants dead.

All roads leading to Kulgam were sealed off with coils of concertina wire, and armored vehicles were stationed at major checkpoints to prevent or discourage movement of pedestrians and vehicles.
Strict restrictions were also imposed in Khudwani, Qaimoh and Yaripora areas of the district to prevent any protests or rallies against the killings.
Checkpoints were set up along the highway at various spots to prevent people from entering Kulgam.

An official said contingents of police and paramilitary troopers were deployed in “volatile” areas including Shopian, Pulwama, Kulgam, Tral and Anantnag to foil JRL’s proposed solidarity march to Kulgam.
On Sunday, a powerful blast left seven civilians dead and dozens were injured in after a gun battle between militants and government forces in Laroo village.
Despite the strict curbs, small groups of people managed to visit the family homes of the slain militants and civilians offering prayers for them and expressed sympathy and solidarity with their kin.
Local separatist leaders were either detained in police stations or were put under house detention. During the day minor incidents of stone pelting took place in Newa and Tral townships of Pulwama district.