Musa killing: Curfew in parts of Kashmir as protests break out

A curfew was imposed in parts Kashmir on Friday as a precautionary measure, a day after top militant leader Zakir Musa was killed in a gunfight with security forces.

Musa, who was instrumental in setting up an Al Qaeda affiliate, Ansar Gazwat-ul-Hind in India, had been on the radar of security forces, according to the police.

Braving bad weather and restrictions by authorities, thousands of people assembled in Noorpora village of Tral, the home town of Musa, in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, to participate in his funeral procession. People offered multiple rounds of prayers after police handed over Musa’s body to his family early in the morning.

As soon as the news of Musa’s death spread on Thursday night, angry youth came out in the streets of Pulwama and old city of Srinagar and started pelting stones, prompting authorities to suspend mobile internet services and deploy forces in strength.

Restrictions were imposed in several parts of Srinagar while the administration closed schools and colleges to prevent a 2016-like situation. In July 2016, Kashmir had witnessed violent protests following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. Over 100 people lost their lives during four months of clashes with security forces.

On Friday, the police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were deployed in large numbers at many places in Srinagar. “There was a curfew and strict restrictions were in place in many parts of the old city as well as uptown. Most of the Srinagar was under roadblocks, checks and frisking,” said Haseeb Mughal, Srinagar senior superintendent of police.

People observed a spontaneous shutdown in places where restrictions were not imposed.

“We have deployed enormous forces including CRPF on ground since last night who have continuously patrolled the streets. So far there have been around 12 incidents of minor stone pelting. Overall the situation so far has been under control,” he said.

A police officer of Pulwana district said that apart from minor incidents of stone pelting, the situation has remained largely peaceful. Kashmir University and Islamic University of Science and Technology postponed their exams scheduled for Friday.

Musa, [real name Zakir Rashid Bhat] was killed at Dadsara, just 2 km away from his home in Noorpora Tral during a gun battle with security forces on Thursday evening.

Police spokesman Manoj Kumar termed Musa’s killing a “major success against terrorism” in south Kashmir. “He has been active for six years and was involved in a number of terrorist activities. He had with him rockets, grenade launchers, projectiles, huge ammunition and war-like stores,” Kumar said.

Earlier this month, a National Investigation Agency court in Mohali, Punjab, had declared him a “proclaimed offender” in a 2018 serial blasts case in Jalandhar, Kumar added.

Son of a senior government engineer and himself an engineering student at Chandigarh, Musa joined militancy in 2013 at the age of 19.

First Published:
May 24, 2019 22:26 IST

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