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Protests, shutdown in Kashmir as truck conductor laid to rest

Strike at Srinagar

Srinagar : Protesters today clashed with security forces at many places as the truck conductor who died in Udhampur petrol bomb attack was laid to rest amid tight security in the Kashmir Valley, where a shutdown has been called by separatists and other groups.

Curfew-like restrictions were imposed in eight police stations and separatist leaders put under house arrest as situation remained tense in the Valley where protests erupted yesterday after conductor Zahid Ahmed succumbed to injuries at a Delhi hospital.

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

With the situation in the state tense, 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”.

Zahid’s body, which was brought here 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 amidst 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 today. People burnt tyres and blocked the highway for an hour amid sloganeering. Protests were also held in Kishtwar and Gandoh belts of Chenab Valley.

Normal life was affected 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.

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