Day curfew was lifted in Jammu and Kashmir's Kishtwar district even as a massive search operation for suspected terrorists, who snatched the service rifle from a personal security officer of a People's Democratic Party leader, continued for the second day on Saturday, officials said.
The day curfew, which was imposed in the town following the weapon snatching incident on Friday, was lifted but all educational institutions remained closed as a precautionary measure, the officials said.
A group of terrorists struck the house of PDP Kishtwar district president Sheikh Nasir Hussain at Gourian village in the town and escaped with the service rifle of his personal security officer (PSO) early Friday.
"The curfew, which was imposed following the incident, was lifted this (Saturday) morning. However, all educational institutions in the town have been closed as a precautionary measure," District Development Commissioner Angrez Singh Rana told PTI.
He said the night curfew, however, will remain in force till further orders.
A massive search operation to track down the terrorists was going on, Rana said, adding the police is working on various leads and the culprits will be brought to book soon.
Officials said additional police and paramilitary forces have been deployed at entry and exit points in the town, where all incoming and outgoing vehicles are subjected to thorough checking.
They said the private car of the PDP leader's brother in which the suspects fled was found abandoned in Dool village, about nine km from the town.
The hilly district, which was declared terrorism-free over a decade ago, has witnessed a number of terror strikes and weapon snatching incidents over the past 10 months.
Terrorists snatched the service rifle of the deputy commissioner's PSO Daleep Kumar on March 8. They struck again at district hospital on April 9, killing RSS functionary Chanderkant Sharma and his PSO before fleeing the scene with the service rifle of the slain cop.
On November 1 last year, terrorists shot dead BJP leader Anil Parihar and his brother Ajit Parihar in Kishtwar town.
Though major breakthrough eluded the security forces in the investigation of the terror cases in the town, a Lashker-e-Tayiba (LeT) local terrorist Jamal-ud-din Gujjar alias 'Abu Bakar', who was active in Kishtwar for one year and was carrying a reward of Rs 5 lakh, was arrested from adjoining Doda district on July 24.
Normal life remains affected in Kashmir
Normal life remained affected across Kashmir Valley for the 41st consecutive day on Saturday as the stalemate following the nullification of Article 370 continued with most shops and schools remaining shut and public transport off the roads, officials said.
Restrictions, which were imposed in the Hazratbal area of the city on Friday, were lifted, the officials said, adding most areas of the valley were restrictions-free.
They, however, said security forces continued to remain deployed at sensitive places across the valley to maintain law and order.
Restrictions were first imposed across Kashmir on August 5 when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and split the state into two Union territories. The restrictions were lifted in phases from many parts of the valley as the situation improved with the passage of time.
The authorities have been imposing restrictions in vulnerable areas of the valley every Friday, apprehending that vested interests might exploit the large gatherings at big mosques and shrines to fuel protests.
Friday prayers have not been allowed at any of the major mosques or shrines, including Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta and Dargah Sharif in Hazratbal, for over a month now.
Meanwhile, normal life remained severely affected across the valley due to shutdown which entered its 41st day on Saturday, the officials said.
Most of the shops and other business establishments remained closed, while public transport was off the roads across the valley, they added.
A few vendors set up stalls on the TRC Chowk-Lal Chowk-Batamaloo axis, they said.
Internet services remained suspended across all platforms, the officials said.
While landline phones across the valley were functional, voice calls on mobile devices were working only in Kupwara and Handwara police districts of north Kashmir.
The efforts of the state government to reopen schools have not borne any fruit as parents continued to keep the kids at home due to apprehensions about their safety.
Most of the top-level and second rung separatist leaders have been taken into custody, while mainstream leaders, including former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah,
Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been either detained or placed under house arrest.