Kashmir: Life disrupted as Valley observes shutdown over civilians killed after Budgam encounter

Three civilians were killed and 63 security personnel were injured yesterday after clashes that followed an encounter in which one militant was killed.

Kashmir Valley, which has been tensed since three youngsters were killed in security forces' firing on Tuesday after the Budgam encounter, is seeing a disruption in normal life today.

Separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Mali, have called for a shutdown today in protest of the civilian casualties, which were the highest for any encounter site in Kashmir this year.

Shops, public transport, other businesses and education institutions remained closed in Srinagar city and elsewhere in the valley although private vehicles movement could be seen on roads. Shops were shut in Baramulla's Sopore town in north Kashmir while reports of shutdown also came in from other towns and district headquarters in the Valley.

Train services between north Kashmir's Baramulla town and the Jammu region's Bannihal town have been suspended and the Kashmir University has postponed all exams scheduled for Wednesday.

News agency IANS reported that sufficient deployment of police and paramilitary forces has been made to maintain law and order. "Adequate deployments of security forces have been made in law and order sensitive areas," a senior police official told the agency, adding, "No curfew has been imposed anywhere," the official said.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Yesterday, a joint team of the Indian Army, the CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir Police, acting on a tip off, cordoned off a house in Durbugh, Chadoora in Budgam where militants were suspected to be holed up. As the forces zeroed in on the house, a militant there opened fire. The forces retaliated, triggering an encounter.

As the encounter raged on, locals gathered in the area and began massive protests. They even pelted the jawans with stones and tried to inch closer to the target house. Even as the forces shot down a militant and burnt down the target house, the protests turned into clashes.

Three men - all in their 20s - succumbed to injuries sustained in firing from the jawans. According to the CRPF DIG, who called the situation 'very difficult,' 63 personnel - 43 CRPF jawans and 20 J&K policemen - sustained injuries in the clashes.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti reacted saying, "It is highly painful to see the young boys losing their lives." National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, meanwhile, said the incident reflects the "alarming situation" in the Valley.

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