Authorities imposed curfew and restrictions on the movement of people in several parts of the Valley to thwart any attempt by separatists’ to hold rallies to mark slain Hizbul militant commander Burhan Wani’s death anniversary on Saturday. Curfew was imposed in three towns including Shopian in south Kashmir, Trehgam in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district, and Tral, Wani’s home town, in Pulwama district. The separatists camp including Hurriyat Conference factions led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik-led JKLF, has urged people in the Valley to march to Tral to pay tributes to Wani, who was killed in an encounter with security forces on this day last year.
Police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed in strength across Kashmir to handle any security challenges.
22-year-old Burhan Wani was the commander of Kashmir-based militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen. His killing triggered months of protests and deadly clashes across the Valley, during which at least 90 people were killed and thousands injured. Wani, who attracted dozens of new recruits using social media platforms such as Facebook and other sites, had sort of rekindled Hizbul Mujahideen. Burhan was among the new wave of tech-savy militants who used to leverage social media to recruit and influence Kashmiri youth. Burhan’s elder brother Khalid was also shot dead by the Army last year.
On June 7, 2016, Wani uploaded a video on YouTube asking people to keep a close watch on the police and the Indian Army and keep him informed about their whereabouts. A bounty of 10 lakh was put on him by the authorities and nearly a month after the video was uploaded, Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with the Indian Security Forces.
More than 100 locals joined militancy last year and terrorists activities have been on the rise, out of which at least 17 had been initiated by the militants. As per the data available with the Multi Agency Centre of the state, 49 terrorists have attempted infiltration from across the LoC this year, and 15 have successfully infiltrated so far.
Zakir Rashid Bhat, nicknamed Zakir Musa, took over the reins of the militant group after Wani’s death and started a recruitment drive in Kashmir, which has an immense following amongst the teenagers. On the death anniversary of Wani, Musa had decided to recruit young people and advertised about it through WhatsApp groups.
Over the last one year, the Jammu & Kashmir government had several times ordered a complete shutdown of the internet and mobile networks due to incessant unrest in the valley.
Meanwhile, on Friday, on the request of the Indian government, the Birmingham City Council recently refused several UK-based Kashmiri groups to organize a rally paying homage to Wani. The day of the rally was marked as “Burhan Wani Day.”
After the curfew and restrictions, the Valley has come to a standstill with shutting down of schools, shops and business establishments and vehicles off the road.