Ensure no civilian is harmed: Mehbooba directs Kashmir police

Jammu and Kashmir

Srinagar, April 14 : Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday directed the state police to ensure that no civilian is harmed during crowd control, as the valley remained tense over the deaths of four people, including three in alleged firing by security forces.

Mehbooba, who returned to Srinagar on Thursday from New Delhi, held a meeting of top officials to review the security situation in the state.

The chief minister, who earlier in the day met Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah in New Delhi, directed her officials that the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of dealing with mobs should be followed to ensure that civilians do not get harmed during crowd control, said sources.

The meeting, held at her Fair View residence on Gupkar Road in Srinagar, was attended by the Director General of Police K. Rajendra Kumar and senior officials of the police.

The meeting came as curfew was clamped again in parts of a tense Kashmir Valley amid simmering anger over the death of four civilians.

As a precautionary measure and to prevent troublemongers from spreading rumours, authorities also snapped cellphone internet.

Restrictions were also imposed in the main business hub of Lal Chowk, amid a valley-wide shutdown call by separatist groups in protest against the civilian deaths.

Curfew was also enforced in the north Kashmir Handwara town and parts of the border district of Kupwara.

Three civilians were killed in Handwara on Tuesday when police fired at an angry mob protesting against the alleged molestation of a teenage girl by an army man. The army has, however, dismissed the allegation as a rumour to malign the force.

A day later, people in Kupwara took to the streets to protest the Handwara deaths. A burning tear gas canister fired by police hit a 25-year-old man on his head. The man later succumbed to the injury.

Separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Yasin Malik, have been placed under house arrest as they had appealed to people to observe a protest shutdown against the killings.

There was a near-total response to the shutdown call as shops, schools, colleges, offices and other businesses in areas where restrictions have not been imposed remained closed. Public transport was also off the roads in the valley.

Separatists have also called for post-prayer protests on Friday.

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