Uneasy calm prevailed for the second day on Wednesday in curfew-bound Kashmir Valley where one more person succumbed to his injuries raising to 43 the death toll in the unrest that erupted on July 8 even as separatists extended the ongoing strike call till July 25.
Local newspapers are also expected to hit the stands on Thursday after suspending publication six days ago over the alleged clampdown by the government, a claim denied by the state although a senior minister Naeem Akhtar justified the restrictions earlier.
The decision to resume the publications came just hours after Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti met the editors who called on her, assuring “independence of media”.
Army Chief General Dalbir Singh, who is on a day-long visit to the Valley, reviewed the security situation in Kashmir and appealed to the people to maintain peace while calling for strict vigil along the Line of Control.
Though the situation in the Valley remained by and large peaceful with no major untoward incident reported from anywhere since Tuesday, 56-year-old Ghulam Mohammad Mir, who was injured in a firing incident at Hatmulla in Kupwara district of north Kashmir on July 15, succumbed to his injuries at SMHS hospital, officials said.
Hailing from Khumriyal village, the deceased was critically injured in the firing which also left a youth dead.
Soon after his death, a group of people staged a peaceful demonstration outside the hospital against the killing.
Kashmir Valley is on the boil since July 8 following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter in Kokernag district of south Kashmir.
Reports of protest demonstrations and hoisting of black flags were also reported from various parts of the city and elsewhere, coinciding with the “black day” which was observed in Pakistan on Wednesday.
However, police and paramilitary forces removed the flags and enforced strict restrictions in the curfew-bound areas of the Valley to maintain law and order.
Normal life remained paralysed for the thirteenth day following the separatist sponsored strike and curfew which continued in the Valley.
Following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander, the separatists initially called for a three-day strike but extended it as civilian deaths mounted amid widespread clashes.
The schools and colleges in the Valley continue to remain closed after the government extended the summer vacations till July 25.
Shops, business establishments and petrol pumps also remained shut, while the government offices and banks witnessed thin attendance.
Mobile telephony and mobile internet services also remained shut.
The united separatist camp, comprising of chairmen of both factions of Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Shah Geelandi and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chairman M Y Malik, had asked people to hoist black flags over all the residential houses, commercial establishments like shops and important landmarks and squares in the Valley on Wednesday.
They have also asked people to observe half-an-hour “blackout” from 8:30 pm by switching off all bulbs and lighting to highlight the “atrocities carried by Indian forces”.
In a separate statement, the separatist camp extended the strike call till July 25 and asked the people to stockpile the essential commodities during ‘no strike period’ from 2 pm on Thursday.
The separatists had asked people to resume normal activities from 2 pm Thursday, but asked them to observe a complete shutdown on Friday which will be observed as “Kashmir Day”.
“There will be a strike on July 23, 24 and 25,” the statement said, also asking people to assemble at mosques after dusk on July 23 to raise slogans and run songs eulogizing the struggle. It also asked people to observe “black out” on July 24 evening and assemble at Anantnag town for a rally.