A day after security forces gunned down two terrorists in an encounter, in which a civilian was also killed, a call for bandh by separatists led to complete shutdown in Kashmir Valley on Tuesday.

Vehicles were off the roads and all business establishments and educational institutions remained closed, even as the government imposed restrictions in several areas to scuttle any protests. Train services remained suspended and all examinations scheduled for the day were postponed.

Internet services in southern Kashmir and parts of northern Kashmir were also snapped. Thousands of people attended multiple funerals of Hizbul Mujahideen militants Sameer Ahmed Bhat, alias ‘Sameer Tiger’, and his aide Aaqib Khan at their villages in Pulwama.

In Baramulla, unidentified gunmen shot dead three civilians on Monday night, the situation remained tense as police and 

paramilitary forces launched a crackdown to trace the attackers.

Asif Ahmad Sheikh (23), Haseeb Ahmad Khan (18) and Mohammad Ashgar (21) — residents of Kakar Hamam area — were shot dead from a point-blank range outside a shop in Iqbal Market on Monday. Police suspect the hand of LeT militants — two local and one Pakistani. No arrests have been made so far.

“He was innocent and killed without any reason,” said Abdul Khaliq Khan, grandfather of Haseeb, who was the youngest of the three youths. The 18-year-old was released only 15 days ago after serving more than eight months in a jail in Kathua in a case related to drugs, police said. His relatives, however, claim the teenager was arrested in a stone-pelting case.

“We were just given a dead body. We don’t know why he was shot dead… We want that those responsible for the killing be unveiled,” Abdul Khan said.

Around 500 meters away at Ashgar’s house, his mother said, “My son left home around 5 pm (Monday). He said he would be back soon for dinner…but when I called him after hearing gunshots, he did not pick up the phone.” Ashgar, who sold merchandise on a handcart, was also recently arrested by the police and released after one month.

The three families claim there was a well-planned conspiracy behind the killings — to bring the three youths at one spot and shoot them from point blank. They were, however, not willing to divulge any more.

SSP Baramulla Imtiyaz Hussain said they have identified the militants. “Army and police launched a cordon and searched Gania Hamam and Jamia… however, the cordon was later lifted,” the SSP said.

The state police blamed militants for the incident while the Hurriyat called for a United Nations probe. CM Mehbooba Mufti condemned the killing of civilians.

“Distressed to hear of three civilians being killed by militants in Baramulla. My deepest condolences to the deceased’s families,” she tweeted. 

02 May 2018/Wednesday                                                            Written by Mohd Tahir Shafi