KASHMIR, India – Merely days after the top commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen, Burhan Muzaffar Wani was killed, violent clashes have torn parts of India’s northern state, Jammu and Kashmir.
The protests are said to have started on Saturday, hours after Wani’s death was made official and continued on Sunday morning.
With several injuries being reported from various parts of the state, officials claimed that south Kashmir was worst affected.
The official casualty count was said to be placed at 15 deaths and 200 injured, even as police continued to clamp down on violent protesters.
Reports stated that a curfew was imposed after protesters attacked police stations, torched buildings and blocked streets in anger.
In Srinagar, shops, banks and other offices were shut down as paramilitary troops patrolled the streets outside.
Kashmiri villagers carry body of Burhan Wani, chief of operations of Indian Kashmir’s largest rebel group Hizbul Mujahideen, during his funeral procession in Tral, some 38 Kilometers (24 miles) south of Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Saturday, July 9, 2016. Indian troops fired on protesters in Kashmir as tens of thousands of Kashmiris defied a curfew imposed in most parts of the troubled region Saturday and participated in the funeral of the top rebel commander killed by Indian government forces, officials and locals said. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
Burhan Wani (22), the commander of one of the largest rebel groups in India’s Kashmir, Hizbul Mujahideen was reportedly killed during a gun fight with government forces on Friday. Along with Wani, two other militants too were brought down in an encounter in Anantnag district in Kashmir.
Wani is said to have carried a one million rupee reward on his head and was killed after the security forces received a tip-off that Wani was planning to come down from Tral forest for Eid. Security forces reportedly cornered Wani and his associates in Kokernag area. The militants, in a bid to escape, opened fire and threw grenades at the security forces. However, the house which they were in was bombed by the security forces and all three were killed.
Separatist political leaders called for a strike and a three day mourning period post Wani’s death.
Clashes post his death resulted in demonstrators attacking police machinery and government buildings in the capital, calling for a valley-wide shut down until July 11. The police on the other hand are said to have resorted to firing tear gas pellets at the violent protesters, leading to at least 200 civilian injuries.
A separatist political leader and head of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is said to have accused the police of using ‘brutish’ measures to calm the crowd.
Farooq reportedly said, “The intention of police and Indian armed forces is always to shoot to kill and not disperse mobs by using non-lethal means.”
Police sources have claimed that three policemen were missing and 96 security personnel were injured, besides the damage that had been caused to public properties.
S. M. Sahai of Kashmir Police said, “Unruly mobs attacked security forces. The violent incidents of arson and stone pelting were reported from several parts of Kashmir.”
Sahai also claimed that the crowds tried to enter security installations and even stole weapons from one police station, that was later used to shoot at officers.
Meanwhile, Omar Abdullah, Jammu and Kashmir’s former chief minister, referred to Wani as a “new icon” for disaffected people.
He tweeted, “Mark my words. Burhan’s ability to recruit into militancy from the grave will far outstrip anything he could have done on social media.”
On Sunday, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti called for measures to maintain law and order in the city, amidst plans to meet the state cabinet in Srinagar to oversee the situation.