Lawmaker injured as restrictions continue in volatile Kashmir

Srinagar, July 18 (IANS) A ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmaker was seriously injured on Monday when his vehicle met with an accident following an alleged mob attack in the restive Kashmir Valley where curfew was imposed for the 11th consecutive day, police said.

Mohammed Khalil Bandh was travelling from his home district of Pulwama to Srinagar “in the dead of the night” when the accident occurred, a police spokesperson told IANS here, adding that there was “some confusion” about the incident.

“We don’t know if it was really a mob attack. We have a report that his vehicle was chased by an unruly mob, causing the accident. But another version says people gathered after his vehicle overturned,” said the police spokesperson.

Some pictures on social media showed a white sedan, believed to be of the lawmaker, lying overturned.

Bandh was rushed to the Army’s 92 Base Hospital in Srinagar where he underwent orthopaedic surgery on his back, the police spokesperson said. His condition was stated to be critical.

The confusion over the incident follows a complete information blackout on local newspapers in the Kashmir Valley, battling one of the deadliest of street violence that has left more than 40 people dead and over 2,000 injured in the last 11 days.

The unrest was triggered by the July 8 killing of 22-year-old Burhan Wani of Hizbul Mujahideen, the social-media-savvy poster boy of new age militancy in Kashmir.

Authorities have imposed a blanket ban on newspapers, asking their editors and owners not to publish till July 19. Journalists fear that the ban may be extended till there is some “semblance” of normalcy on Kashmir streets.

Cable television services have, however, been resumed after service providers took off all Pakistan TV channels and two private Indian channels.

All mobile phone services, including internet and call facilities, have been snapped across the valley. Limited call facility continued on post-paid cell phones provided by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL).

Curfew and a shutdown called by the separatists paralysed normal life for the 11th consecutive day in the valley.

Officials told IANS that Sunday was the first day without any civilian casualty since the stir broke out.

“A violent mob attacked a camp of the Rashtriya Rifles in Saderkot area of Bandipora district yesterday (Sunday) forcing the soldiers to open fire in self-defence. Four protestors were injured in the incident,” a police officer said.

“Except for stray incidents of stone pelting at some places, the overall law and order situation remained calm yesterday (on Sunday) across the valley.”

Closure of the strategic Jammu-Srinagar National Highway for over a week has caused shortage of essential items in the valley. All supplies of essentials items are routed into the landlocked valley through this highway — the only road link that connects the valley with the rest of India.

Train services between Baramulla town in the valley and Banihal town in the Jammu region also remained suspended for the 11th day on Monday.

Separatist leaders continue to remain under house arrest and preventive detention in summer capital Srinagar.

The central government has rushed another 20 companies of paramilitary forces to assist the state in quelling the street unrest.

–IANS

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