The situation in Jammu and Kashmir remains tense ahead of the first death anniversary of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, who died in an encounter between terrorists and security forces in Anantnag on July 8, 2016.
The 21-year-old slain terrorist had picked up arms at the age of 16 after his brother was humiliated by security forces in 2010 when the valley was fuming over the fake encounter of three young men. He later became the face of Hizbul Mujahideen and attracted educated youth to join their cause of liberation of Kashmir from India.
Wani's death also triggered widespread protests and violence with the authorities imposing several curfews and shutdowns across the state. At least 85 people were killed and thousands of people were injured in daily clashes between protesters and security forces over a period of four months.
Four districts of Jammu and Kashmir — Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian and Anantnag — have been on the boil since Wani's death.
Section 144 of the CrPC
Security across the state has been beefed up, and social media websites and Internet services have been shut down to prevent protests and rallies, especially in south Kashmir districts.
Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and other curfew-like restrictions have also been imposed in Srinagar and several other districts of Jammu and Kashmir ahead of Wani's death anniversary. Section 144 forbids gathering of four or more people at a particular place.
An order by the district administration also stated that essential services, government employees and accredited and registered media persons would be exempted from the restrictions imposed across the state. Restrictions under section 144 will also remain imposed in Pulwama from "dawn to dusk" in a bid to "maintain peace and public order and to safeguard life and property in the district".
Security measures put in place, social media websites shut
Over 21,000 security personnel from the central paramilitary forces have been deployed across the state to prevent protests and rallies to mark the first death anniversary of Wani and also to provide security to the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims.
"We are well prepared to handle any situation in Kashmir. We have sent 214 companies of central forces to control any situation which may arise on July 8 and during Amarnath Yatra," Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi told reporters.
A single company of central paramilitary forces consists of 100 personnel. These 214 companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed in addition to the forces of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and those deployed for anti-military duties.
All social media websites have been blocked while Internet service providers have been asked to suspend broadband services across the Kashmir Valley from Friday until further orders for fear of "misuse by anti-social elements". However, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Muneer Khan told reporters that there was no blanket ban on mobile Internet services.
"Reports of a blanket ban on mobile Internet are not based on facts. We will review the situation on a daily basis and take stakeholders on board before taking any decision. Let me clarify that there will be no blanket ban on mobile Internet from July 7 to July 16," he said.
"If service providers find it difficult to block the social media sites, then they should shut down their services in Kashmir from 10 pm on Thursday till further orders," an order issued by Khan to different Internet service providers read.
Security has especially been beefed up in Tral, Wani's native village, to prevent any gathering of people.
Separatists taken into preventive custody
Several separatists have been taken into preventive custody after several groups called for complete shutdown on July 8 to pay tribute to Wani on his first death anniversary.
Several separatist groups have called for a strike on July 8 to pay tribute to those killed in clashes between protesters and security forces. The Hurriyat Conference has called for a complete shutdown on July 8 and July 13 and also asked people to visit the homes of deceased militant leaders on July 9.
"Many separatists have been taken into preventive custody in the wake of a call given by the United Jihad Council (UJC) and separatists... There will be no permission for any unlawful assembly anywhere. Our primary concern is to ensure that peace is maintained... Our special focus will be to thwart possible militant strikes on the eve of Burhan's anniversary. There is a chance that militants may attack soft targets," Khan was quoted by Greater Kashmir as saying.
An official of the Northern Railways said that train services would remain suspended in Kashmir for two days from July 7 onwards "in view of the security situation."
The Kashmir University has postponed all exams that were scheduled to be held on July 8 in wake possible protests that may take place on Wani's first death anniversary.
"In view of concerns expressed by students vis-a-vis transportation, all Kashmir University examinations scheduled to be held on July 8 are postponed," the spokesman of the Kashmir University said adding that fresh dates would be announced later.
The Jammu and Kashmir government had announced a 10-day holiday for all educational institutions from July 6.