Normal life comes to standstill in Kashmir

Srinagar, May 7: Normal life came to a standstill in Kashmir today on a call for shutdown by separatists to protest the deaths of five civilians near an encounter site in Shopian district yesterday. Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), an amalgam of separatist groups, spearheaded by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, called for a complete strike to protest against the deaths of the civilians during clashes with security forces following an encounter in which five militants, including an assistant professor from the Kashmir University, were killed. The separatists have called for a sit-in against the deaths outside the Civil Secretariat, which opened today as part of the traditional ‘Darbar Move’ practice, here. While Geelani and Mirwaiz have been placed under house arrest, Malik has been taken into preventive custody since Saturday. Schools, colleges and other educational institutions have been closed as a precautionary measure to prevent any law and order situation, officials said. The Kashmir University has cancelled all academic activity for two days and postponed the exams scheduled to be held today. Shops and other business establishments remained closed while public transport remained off the roads due to the strike call. The authorities have imposed restrictions on the movement of people in seven police station areas of the city — Maharaj gunj, Rainawari, Khanyar, Nowhtatta, Safa Kadal, Maisuma and Kralkhud — as a precautionary measure. Restrictions have also been imposed in Pulwama and Shopian districts of south Kashmir while security forces have been deployed in strength across the Valley for maintaining law and order, a police official said. The official said the situation across the Valley is peaceful so far. Train services from Banihal to Baramulla have been suspended while Internet services in mobile devices continued to remain suspended for the third day today.