Fresh clashes broke out between protestors and security forces in Kashmir after Friday prayers, leading to the death of one youth. This has raised the death toll in the unrest that began two weeks ago to 45 even as Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is set to visit the Valley on Saturday.
As the PDP-BJP government battles the unrest following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter, Singh will be in Kashmir for two days in a bid to calm down tensions and reach out to people in the first high level visit from the Centre after violence broke out on July 8.
After a brief spell of relative calm, reports of stone pelting were received from many places in the curfew-bound Valley, mostly in Baramulla, Kupwara and Pulwama districts, as clashes continued through the evening.
Curfew remained in force in all 10 districts of the Valley due to apprehension of law and order problems in view of large gatherings for Friday prayers.
A youth, identified as Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat, sustained severe injuries in the abdomen after being hit by pellets during protests at Chursoo in Awantipora area of Pulwama, a police official said.
He said Bhat was rushed to SMHS hospital here but succumbed to injuries.
This was the first death in fresh clashes in the Valley since Monday when three persons were killed in army firing at Qazigund in Anantnag district.
Two other people were brought to SMHS hospital today with pellet injuries—one from Kakapora in Pulwama district and other from Sopore town of north Kashmir Baramulla district, the official said.
He said condition of Asif Ahmad, who was injured during clashes in Kakapora, was critical while Aaqib Ahmad from Sopore was stable.
Earlier in the day, a youth succumbed to injuries sustained in clashes a few days ago.
Ishtiyaq Ahmad, injured in clashes at Kokernag area of Anantnag district, died at SKIMS hospital, Soura in the morning.
Although no incident of violence was reported on Thursday, authorities clamped curfew in all 10 districts of Kashmir as a precautionary measure, a police official said.
"Large gatherings are expected during Friday prayers which usually turn into violent protests," the official said.
Authorities had eased curfew in four districts—Baramulla, Bandipora, Budgam and Ganderbal— on Thursday to facilitate reopening of schools.
However, most of the schools in these districts remained closed as parents chose not to send their wards due to security apprehensions.
Internet and mobile services remained suspended for the 14th day on Friday. Normal life has been paralysed for two weeks now due to curfew and a separatist-sponsored strike.
Singh, who will reach Srinagar around 11 am, will first interact with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and senior officials and review the law and order situation.
After that, he will meet representatives of political parties, social organisations and leading citizens to get their feedback about the Kashmir situation as well as future roadmap, official sources said in Delhi.
Singh will stay at Nehru guest house in Srinagar, where he will meet the public representatives.