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Kashmir in lockdown after three civilians killed in crossfire

LiveMint logoLiveMint 29-03-2017 Shaswati Das

New Delhi: A day after three civilians were killed in crossfire between security forces and militants in Kashmir’s Budgam district, the Valley went into a complete lockdown on Wednesday.

While nearly 200 companies of paramilitary forces—30,000 troops—were deployed across Kashmir after Tuesday’s incident, the Valley came to a standstill after the Hurriyat leadership called for a general strike over the civilian deaths.

Normal life was thrown out of gear as public transport, shops and local businesses remained shut in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley. Kashmir University postponed examinations scheduled for Wednesday; train services between Jammu and Kashmir were halted, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Jammu and Kashmir police said.

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Additional paramilitary forces are keeping a vigil for the upcoming byelections on 9 and 12 April in Srinagar and Anantnag.

As a precautionary measure, election campaigning in the south Kashmir region have been suspended.

On Tuesday, an ongoing anti-insurgency operation in Budgam was interrupted by a mob that hurled stones at the security cordon, injuring 43 troops of the CRPF and 20 of J&K police. Three civilians were killed.

“The deployment of troops is primarily to prepare for the upcoming by-elections. As of today (Wednesday), the entire Kashmir valley has been locked down. Stone pelting has become a pattern with the youth and it has begun to heavily hinder anti-terror operations because they come to the operation sites and disrupt the security cordon,” said Zulfiquar Hasan, inspector general (operations) Kashmir, CRPF.

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In Anantnag, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti appealed to parents in the Valley to keep their children away from encounter sites. “Because at that time, firing is on from both sides, militants as well as security forces are firing and allowing the children to go these sites is full of danger.”

On Tuesday, security forces of the CRPF, J&K Police and the SOG (Special Operation Group) launched a cordon and search operation in Durbugh village of Chadoora in Budgam after getting reports of the presence of militants in the area, the CRPF said. Things went out of control after local villagers broke the cordon.

The Budgam incident was the fifth in the series of attacks, since Saturday. On Monday night, two militants attacked the house of a superintendent of police in Kashmir’s Kulgam. Prior to that, a group of armed terrorists opened fire in Anantnag at J&K minister Farooq Andrabi’s house, injuring one policeman.

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On Sunday morning, two Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists were killed when they tried to attack a police party that included three senior officers in Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Likewise, the J&K police also added that on Saturday night, a group of unidentified terrorists barged into the house of a sub-inspector and took his son and nephew hostage and ransacked the house. The two were later released, after the militants set the car ablaze.

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