Srinagar: Major parts of Kashmir Wednesday observed a shutdown to mark the fourth death anniversary of Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Burhan Wani, who was killed in an encounter with the security forces on 8 July four years ago.
Although the day passed without any major violent incident, police officials said some parts of the Valley witnessed minor stone-pelting incidents, which were immediately controlled by the security forces. Mobile internet services, like every year since 2017, were snapped in parts of Kashmir.
No major processions were taken out, a senior police official said.
Kashmir observes shutdowns every year on 8 July to commemorate 21-year-old Wani, who was killed in a gun battle in Bamdoora area of south Kashmir.
Separatist outfits, until last year, have been calling for strikes and asking people to organise protests on 8 July. But this year, no separatist outfit issued a public statement, calling for demonstrations against the government of India.
A letter, however, surfaced calling for a strike in commemoration of Wani.
According to J&K Police, it was being circulated as a missive from 91-year-old separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, but they said he hadn’t written it. An FIR was also filed in this regard.
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Police officers said the letter appeared to have been written by Kashmiri separatists based in Pakistan and circulated on social media by a Twitter profile “that claims to represent Geelani”.
Shops shut, minor incidents of stone-pelting
There were at least three minor incidents of stone-pelting in Srinagar’s Downtown area. Other minor incidents of stone-pelting were reported from southern parts of the Valley.
Authorities in south Kashmir and in the northern region snapped mobile internet for the day to prevent law and order situation.
In Srinagar’s Lal Chowk area, which is in the heart of the city, shops remained shut until late evening. Other public places, including parks, also wore a deserted look.
“By and large, the day passed peacefully,” said the senior police official mentioned above.
Unrest after Wani’s killing
Wani came to prominence after his frequent use of social media, a modus operandi that was never adopted by militant outfits or their leaders in Kashmir.
As a result, the drop in local recruitment for militant outfits began to increase. However, it was after Wani’s killing and the subsequent six-month agitation that bolstered militant recruitment in the Valley.
Wani’s killing had triggered a six-month-long violent agitation in which more than 100 civilians were killed and thousands injured, including those wounded by the controversial pellet guns used by the security forces.
In 2017, 126 local youths joined militant outfits and the number increased to 200 in 2018, which was an all-time high in over a decade.
Wani’s successors have been killed in encounters that took place between 2016 and 2020 — the latest one being Riyaz Naikoo.
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