On October 13, Tuesday, protests hit Srinagar in Kashmir following an alleged assault on two youth by patrolling soldiers in the city’s Rawalpora area. Locals came out on the streets in large numbers raising anti-army slogans, and blocked a main road in the city. Protesters have demanded strict action against the personnel involved in the assault on 20-year-old Shahid Ahad and 21-year-old Auqib Dar.
As per the families of the youth, the two were merely passing by when they were stopped by the stationed troops, who then began “thrashing them indiscriminately.” The two received critical injuries and were immediately rushed to the nearest hospital.
A day before, on Monday, at least four houses were damaged in Barzulla, around five kilometers from the Rawalpora area, during a four-hour-long gun battle between counter-insurgency forces and two slain militants, later identified as Irshad Ahmad Dar and Saifullah.
An eyewitness to the incident stated that a house where the two militants had taken refuge was pounded with heavy explosives by the security forces. The house, belonging to Mushtaq Ahmad, was fully razed to the ground a few hours after the exchange of fire. According to locals, the security forces scanned the entire area for several hours even after the bodies of the militants were retrieved.
In another development on Monday, three teachers in south Kashmir’s Shopian district were booked under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) for their alleged association with banned outfit Jamaat-e-Islami. Abdul Ahad Bhat, Rouf Bhat and Mohammad Yusuf Wani had been under surveillance for several months while they were working as senior teachers in Siraj-uloom Imam Sahib. As per the provisions of the PSA, the three teachers can be detained for at least two years without any trial.
The political situation in the Kashmir region remains tense after the Narendra Modi-led Indian government withdrew its special status by scrapping article 370 of the Indian constitution on August 5, last year. Following this move, all communication in the region was snapped for a month. Though landline and mobile phone connections were partially restored later, internet data speed continues to remain throttled on mobile connections even now.
Director general of police Dilbagh Singh told reporters on Monday that at least 75 counter insurgency operations have been conducted in Kashmir this year, in which over 180 militants were killed.