Tension continued in the Kashmir Valley today after three youngsters were killed in firing by security forces on Tuesday after an encounter at Budgam in which a suspected terrorist was killed.
Normal life was disrupted as separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Mali, have called for a shutdown today in protest against the civilian casualties, which were the highest for any encounter site in Kashmir this year.
All shops and other business establishments remained closed in Sri Nagar's Lal Chowk while public transport remained off the roads. Shops were shut in Baramulla's Sopore town in north Kashmir while reports of a shutdown also came in from other towns and district headquarters in the Valley.
On Tuesday, a joint team of the Indian Army, the Central Reserve Police Force 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, eventually killing the militant.
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. As the forces shot down the 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 Deputy Inspector General, 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 said the incident reflects the "alarming situation" in the Valley.