SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir, July 26 (Xinhua) — Authorities Tuesday relaxed curfew in most parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir including Srinagar city, the summer capital after 17 days of strict restrictions.
However, offices, educational institutions, and businesses remained closed in wake of a shutdown call given by separatist groups.
The deployments of police and paramilitary were withdrawn from the roads and barricades of steel and coils of concertina were lifted to allow movement of people into the city. The curfew was lifted after government announced there would be no restrictions in Srinagar.
“According to District Magistrate Srinagar Farooq Ahmad Lone, there will be no restrictions in any part of district Srinagar today,” a government spokesman said.
Following the withdrawal of government forces, hundreds of angry residents took to roads in old parts of Srinagar city shouting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. The residents lit bonfires of used tyres and cardboard boxes to demonstrate anger against New Delhi.
The mosques dotting the old city at once blared with songs praising militants and advocating the region’s secession from India.
Locals said clashes broke out in the city with youth throwing stones on the government forces and the latter responding with tear gas and warning shots. Around a dozen people were injured in the clashes.
Officials, however, have not relaxed curfew in the southern Anantnag and Pulwama, which erupted after the killing of a top militant commander of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), Burhan Muzaffar Wani, along with two of his associates on July 8. The 22-year-old was poster boy of HM, region’s indigenous militant outfit.
Wani’s death triggered violent protests and clashes after which authorities imposed an indefinite curfew in Muslim-majority areas of the region. Police firing on civilian protesters defying restrictions has so far resulted in the death of around 50 people, mostly teenagers and youth, according to local media reports.
The local government has placed key separatist leaders under house arrest fearing their participation in demonstrations would intensify anti-India protests and mobilize people in large numbers. On Monday, police detained Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to foil their Anantnag march.
Separatist have given a protest call up to Friday against the civilian killings in ongoing protests.
Cellphone and internet services continue to remain suspended in the region since July 8 in a bid to prevent people from mobilizing.
Reports of clashes poured in from Anantnag and other places.
On Sunday, India’s federal Home Minister Rajnath Singh appealed to restore calm during his two-day visit to the region. Singh met several delegations, mostly politicians from pro-India parties, and held meetings with the region’s chief minister, governor and security agencies.
In 2010, a similar wave of violence hit the region and claimed over 100 lives during clashes that continued for months.
A separatist movement and guerrilla war challenging New Delhi’s rule has been going on in Indian-controlled Kashmir since 1989.