Shutdown, restrictions imposed in Kashmir after gunfight

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Kashmiri people gather near a house destroyed in a gunfight at Khonmoh village in the outskirts of Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir, March 16, 2018. Xinhua/Javed Dar

SRINAGAR (Xinhua) – Restrictions imposed by authorities and shutdown called by separatists yesterday hit normal life in restive Indian-controlled Kashmir, officials said.

On Saturday, three militants and a trooper were killed in fierce gunfight in a village and subsequently seven civilians were killed and over two dozen injured in clashes.

Police have placed senior separatist leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Geelani and others under house arrest fearing they would lead protests in the region.

A local government official in Srinagar said restrictions have been imposed in Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, Safakadal, M R Gunj and Maisuma police station areas of the city.

Hundreds of police and paramilitary troopers were seen deployed in the city to foil the protest demonstrations.

“The restrictions have been imposed as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order and avoid any untoward incident,” the official, authorised not to talk to media, told Xinhua.

Reports pouring in from districts south of Srinagar said similar restrictions have been put in place to disallow protests.

Authorities have suspended mobile internet services in Kashmir province including Srinagar and limited speed of broadband, fearing it would mobilise protesters to stage anti-India demonstrations.

The authorities have also suspended domestic rail service as a precautionary measure.

Shops, fuel stations remained closed in wake of the shutdown and restrictions. Public transport also remained off the roads.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the psyche of majority of Kashmiris.

Irate residents often take to streets and clash with police.

The youth throw stones and brickbats on contingents of police and paramilitary, who respond by firing tear smoke shells, pellets and bullets, which often proves fatal.

A separatist movement and guerrilla war challenging New Delhi’s rule is going on in Indian-controlled Kashmir since 1989.

Kashmir, the Himalayan region divided between India and Pakistan is claimed by both in full.

Since their independence from Britain, the two countries have fought three wars, two exclusively over Kashmir.

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