(From Press Trust of India)

Protesters in India’s Kashmir clashed with security forces at many places as the trucker who died in the Udhampur petrol bomb attack was laid to rest amid tight security in the Valley where a shutdown was called by separatists and other groups.

Security personnel fire tear gas at protesters during clashes after the funeral of Zahid Ahmed in Anantnag district of South Kashmir
Security personnel fire tear gas at protesters during clashes after the funeral of Zahid Ahmed in Anantnag district of South Kashmir

Curfew-like restrictions were imposed in eight police station areas and separatist leaders were placed under house arrest in the valley where protests erupted Sunday after Zahid Ahmed, who was allegedly attacked over cow slaughter rumors, succumbed to injuries at a Delhi hospital.

Rail services were halted in Kashmir from Banaihal belt while traffic on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was disrupted due to protests.

As tension gripped the state, the Cabinet passed a resolution condemning the October 9 Udhampur petrol bomb attack on the Kashmir-bound truck and “lauded the people of the state for maintaining peace and calm”.

Chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who chaired the Cabinet meeting in Srinagar, moved a resolution condemning the October 9 incident at Shiv Nagar in Udhampur district.

“The Cabinet adopted the resolution in one voice. Later, a two-minute silence was also observed as a mark of respect for the departed soul,” an official spokesman said.

The Cabinet also approved ex-gratia relief of Rs 500,000 (US$7,718)  and a government job to the next of the kin of the deceased youth.

Earlier, Zahid’s body, which was brought  to Srinagar from Delhi in a state aircraft, was taken for burial in a large procession by residents of Batengoo, his native village in South Kashmir’s Anantnag. He was buried in the ancestral graveyard in the village amid sloganeering by the mourners, a police official said.

A youth was seen carrying a Pakistani flag during the funeral procession which passed off peacefully as authorities had made stringent security arrangements. The official said the restrictions imposed in Anantnag police station area were eased to allow the people to participate in the funeral.

However, soon after, clashes broke out between protesters and police personnel in Anantnag and some adjoining areas, police said.

Groups of youths started pelting stones at police personnel at Batengoo and some other areas of Anantnag as they were returning from the burial. Police used tear gas shells to disperse the protesters but the clashes were going on till last reports came in, a police official said, adding there were no reports of anyone getting hurt.

The traffic on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was severely affected due to clashes in Anantnag, which falls on the arterial road connecting the Valley with rest of the country.

Protests also rocked Banihal town of Ramban district during the shutdown. People burnt tires and blocked the highway for an hour amid sloganeering. Protests were also held in Kishtwar and Gandoh belts of Chenab Valley.

Normal life was disrupted in Kashmir Valley due to the strike called by separatists and trade organizations.

Most of the shops, business establishments, petrol pumps and private educational institutions remained closed while government offices and banks witnessed thin attendance, officials said.

Public transport was off the roads while private cars, cabs and auto-rickshaws plied at some places, officials said.

Kashmir University and Board of School Education postponed all examinations scheduled for Monday due to the strike.

The strike call was given by almost all the separatist groups including both factions of Hurriyat Conference and supported by various trade organizations and a pandit organization Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS).

Police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed in strength to maintain law and order, an official said.

Ahead of the funeral, movement of people was restricted in Anantnag and Bijbehara police station areas in South Kashmir, a police official said.

Similar restrictions were imposed in six police station areas of Srinagar, where protests had broken out Sunday over the death.

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