Srinagar, March 13: The Omar Abdullah government decided to clamp curfew in Srinagar from midnight today after a 25-year-old man was killed in CRPF firing in the old city, sparking protests in several areas.
The killing took place on a day the CRPF came under worst attack in the city in years and amid a shutdown called by separatists to press their demand for the return of the body of Afzal Guru, who was hanged in New Delhi on February 9.
The security forces are battling almost daily protests after Afzal’s execution. The unrest has compelled the security forces to shift their focus from fighting militants to managing street protests, which has made them vulnerable to insurgent attacks.
A police officer said the protests after Afzal’s execution have forced the security forces to divert their attention to quelling the unrest.
“Our forces are stretched thin because of the daily clashes across Kashmir. This has helped militants plan and carry out attacks,” he said.
On March 2, militants shot two police constables point blank in Handwara, which was preceded by the killing of a sarpanch in Pattan some days earlier.
The officer said street protests have also hit intelligence gathering as information about militants could not be culled from sources. Police sources said there was resentment even in their ranks, which prompted the force to undertake special counselling sessions with juniors to calm tempers.
The killing of six civilians after Afzal’s execution has fed fuel to the fire, igniting more street protests. The Srinagar youth’s death today in CRPF firing has further inflamed the situation. The ruling National Conference termed his death as a cold-blooded murder by the CRPF.
Some 500 CRPF and policemen and hundreds of civilians have been injured in clashes since the hanging of Afzal.