Srinagar, Sep 10 (IANS) Two persons were killed in fresh clashes with security forces on Saturday in south Kashmir as the government moved in soldiers to help restore normalcy in the worst hit region of the valley that remained shut for the 64th day.
Police said the deaths occurred in two south Kashmir villages where hundreds of people took out demonstrations defying restrictions on the assembly of four or more persons.
Security forces fired tear gas canisters, pellets and cane charged the protesters, several of whom were injured in Tukroo village of Shopian and Botengoo village of Anantnag, police said.
The deceased were identified as Sayar Ahmed Sheikh, 25, and Yawar Ahmed, 23.
Sheikh, according to police, was hit on the head by a flying tear gas shell. The Shopian man was removed to a hospital where he was declared brought dead, a police spokesperson said.
Ahmed, according to health officials, received pellet injuries in his chest and abdomen during a clash. He was also declared dead on the arrival at an Anantnag hospital.
With this, the death toll rose to 78 in the ongoing turmoil that has rocked the Kashmir Valley since the July 8 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
Over 12,000 civilians and security personnel have been injured in the unrest that began a day after Wani’s killing.
The valley has been observing a separatist-called shutdown for over two months. On Saturday, curfew continued at many places in the valley to foil separatist-called protest rallies. But people at various places, including in Srinagar, took out rallies, shouting anti-government and pro-freedom slogans.
The fresh violence came as hundreds of soldiers had started moving towards Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag — the worst hit south Kashmir districts in the unending cycle of violence — to help the civil administration re-establish authority in the valley.
Nearly 60 deaths have occurred in the south which has been the epicentre of the street violence after Wani was killed in a hideout also in this region.
The sources said the army had suspended its anti-militancy operations in the south for over two months because of the street unrest.
The fresh deployment of soldiers is to resume the counter-terrorism operations, the sources said. They said the army had been told not to get into mob control unless it came under attack by stone-throwing protesters.
Government sources said that the army would be launching a massive anti-terror operation in south Kashmir as the authorities believe that militant leaders in Pakistan were directly sponsoring the agitation through their foot soldiers and overground workers in the valley.
In Delhi, BJP leader and its Kashmir point man Ram Madhav agreed. He said United Jehad Council commander Syed Salahuddin who also heads the Hizbul Mujahideen group was masterminding the street unrest through hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
“It is led by Syed Salahuddin and certain sections get influenced by him. Geelani is leading the campaign in the valley. There is no doubt about that. But the real masterminds are from across the border,” Madhav told India Today TV in an interview.