After the adverse ground reports by intelligence and security grid, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has decided to continue with blanket curfew for the 15th continuous day in the entire Kashmir valley to retrieve the situation post Burhan Wani’s killing. Internet services, mobile services also remain suspended while newspapers resumed publication after a gag of five days but their circulation is confined to Srinagar because of severe curfew restrictions. The death toll reached 48 as one more teenager was killed at Awantipora.
Mehbooba Mufti expressed her displeasure in a high level meeting on Friday afternoon and shifted DIG South Kashmir and SSP Anantnag, after security forces opened fire and killed a teenager on the spot at Awantipora in South Kashmir. CM Mufti broke down in an all-party meeting called by her in Srinagar, while talking about the deaths and pellet injuries to teenagers. The main opposition party National Conference boycotted her all party meet, dubbing it too little, too late.
Meanwhile, Home Minister Rajnath Singh along with DG, CRPF, and ITBP reached Kashmir for a two-day visit to take stock of the situation. A senior PDP leader told this newspaper that they will urge the Home Minister to ban the use of pellet guns and also urge him to allow a sincere and unconditional dialogue with all the stake holders to bring Kashmir out of violence. “Rajnath Singh has already said in Parliament that he will make a committee to ultimately ban the pellet guns and we need firm action on this count as more and more children are coming to hospitals with pellet injuries,” the PDP minister said.
The J&K Congress on Saturday decided not to meet Rajnath Singh. Singh met many civilian groups to get the feel of the ground situation. But top trade and commercial bodies and civil society groups decided not to meet him. President of Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation, Muhammad Yasin Khan told The Sunday Guardian that if India wants to resolve the Kashmir dispute, it should hold dialogue with the real representatives of the state and Pakistan, which is a party to the dispute. “We are traders, what would India achieve by talking to us?” Khan told this newspaper.
On Saturday there were reports of acute shortage of baby food, essential medicines and food items in main Srinagar, especially in downtown.
The anger is only brewing and the government will have to move away from trying to contain the situation by bringing more forces on streets, said a group of local volunteers who are helping the injured and their families with food and medicine in the Srinagar hospitals.
“Police is trying to chase us away from the hospitals as we are helping these victims. No minister or officer has visited these hospitals,” said Mohammed Ibrahiem, one of the local volunteers outside SMHS hospital. The authorities in SMHS hospital told this newspaper that they have received over a dozen injured persons, two of them in serious conditions, on Friday afternoon. “There are four seriously injured persons undergoing treatment and their condition is critical,” said Dr Syed Qawnain of neuro-surgery department in SMHS department. According to the official data, 2,943 persons have been injured in the last 12 days.