Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan PM Imran Khan finished their speeches at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), protests broke out in several parts of Srinagar, prompting authorities to re-impose restrictions on Saturday morning.
Towards afternoon, a grenade was lobbed at CRPF personnel in downtown Srinagar, but it missed the target. The CRPF issued a release on the attack, making it possibly the first militant strike acknowledged by the forces since the August 5 scrapping of Jammu & Kashmir’s special status.
Srinagar woke up on Saturday to police and paramilitary forces back in strength on the streets, and concertina wires and metallic barricades blocking major roads. A police vehicle did the rounds announcing re-imposition of restrictions on civilian movement and ordering people to stay indoors. The few shops that had opened in the city centre for early-morning sales — as they have been doing in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley from 7 to 9 am — were forced to down shutters. Police and paramilitary also blocked the roads leading to the clock tower in city centre Lal Chowk.
Police sources said the restrictions were re-imposed as a precautionary measure, after Khan said in his UNGA speech that there would be violence consequent to India’s actions in Kashmir. Soon after he had finished his speech, in which he also sought international intervention in Kashmir, people took to the streets in parts of Srinagar such as Nishat, Shalimar and Harwan, holding torchlights and protesting against scrapping of special status and bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories. Protests were also reported elsewhere in the Valley.
The restrictions came back barely 12 hours after the government claimed that day-time curbs on civilian movement had been lifted across the Valley. Immediately after Khan’s speech, J&K, Secretary, Information M K Dwivedi had tweeted, late on Friday night: “Daytime restrictions relaxed from all 105 police station jurisdictions in Kashmir. So now no restrictions in all 22 districts of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Still very volatile
SATURDAY’S grenade attack was possibly the first militant strike acknowledged since August 5. The immediate return of curbs suggests the J&K situation remains volatile.
Sources said that apart from Srinagar, curbs were also back in Anantnag and Awantipora in South Kashmir, Ganderbal in Central Kashmir and Kupwara and Handwara towns in North Kashmir. In other areas, while forces were deployed in large numbers, people were allowed to move around.
Saturday also saw an encounter between militants and joint forces in Trunkhal area, located in the higher reaches of Ganderbal district. The Army said one militant was killed “and warlike stores recovered”.
The encounter was the first in the Valley since Thursday, when NSA Ajit Doval asked security agencies to step up anti-militancy operations.
In Srinagar, CRPF men came under attack in Nawakadal area of Old City. A CRPF spokesperson said a grenade was lobbed on the troops of 49 Battalion. “Grenade blasted at a distance… No loss or injury was reported,” the spokesperson said.
Since August 5, only one encounter and a brief shootout between security forces and militants had been reported, both in North Kashmir.
The Jammu region also saw an encounter on Saturday, with the Army killing three terrorists reportedly wanted for their involvement in the killing of a senior BJP leader and an RSS functionary 11 months ago, at Batote town in Ramban district. It was the first encounter in the town in the three decades of insurgency in the state. An Army jawan lost his life while two policemen sustained injuries during the firefight, that lasted nearly three hours.