Life in Muslim majority areas of Indian-controlled Kashmir on Sunday remained affected for the second straight day in wake of the shutdown call by separatist groups to protest civilian killings at the hands of India’s paramilitary troopers of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
Four people were killed and another was wounded on Saturday after CRPF personnel fired at them in Gagran Village of Shopian District, about 50 km south of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir.
The killings triggered violent protests in Shopian, following which authorities early Sunday imposed curfew in the district.
Police officials initially said they were militants and attacked their camp. However, they admitted Saturday evening that of the slain youth two were local civilians.
However, they said identity of other two was being ascertained. Locals have been contesting police and CRPF claims, saying the slain youth were civilians and killed in an unprovoked firing by CRPF.
Early Sunday, another victim was identified as Tariq Ahmad Mir of adjacent Kulgam District. Locals and Mir’s family at Kulgam said he was a walnut vendor purchasing walnuts from households.
His body was handed over to his family. Authorities have imposed curfew in Kulgam as well to prevent street protests. Identity of the fourth one is yet to be disclosed by police.
Meanwhile, people in Gagran Village are staging protest demonstration demanding shifting of CRPF camp and an impartial inquiry into the “cold-blooded murder” of four civilians.
The killings took place hours before international classic music icon Zubin Mehta’s concert in Srinagar’s Shalimar Bagh.
“Killings of four innocent civilians by Indian forces at a time when Zubin Metha’s concert was going on at Shalimar garden should serve as an eye-opener for diplomats of various countries who were present in the function about the ground situation in Kashmir,” Syed Ali Geelani, a hard-liner separatist leader, told media.
“It is worst demonstration of state terrorism,” said Geelani.
Officials said more than 1,500 guests from Kashmir and beyond, including diplomats, Indian film stars and government ministers and officials, had gathered at the garden to listen to the timeless music of Beethoven, Haydn and Tchaikovsky to be played by Mehta’s 150-strong Bavarian State Orchestra.
The Kashmir Concert was organized by the German Embassy in New Delhi with support from the local and federal Indian government.
The region’s moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq asked the visiting dignitaries, ambassadors and diplomats, who are in Srinagar, to visit the bereaved families in Shopian to get the real feel of “Ehsaas-e-Kashmir” (feeling for Kashmir).
On Sunday, CRPF troopers also wounded a civilian after firing at his vehicle in Srinagar city’s Budshah Chowk.