Separatist shutdown affects life in Kashmir Valley

Srinagar, June 17 (IANS) A protest shutdown called by separatists on Wednesday against the killing of four men in Sopore town affected life across the Kashmir Valley as markets were closed down and public transport stayed off the roads.

Businesses and educational institutions remained closed here and in all other major towns of the Valley.

Attendance in government offices, banks and post offices was also adversely affected because of the non-availability of public transport.

Private vehicles and three wheelers plied on some roads in Srinagar city although such vehicular movements remained restricted to the uptown area and the outskirts.

Vehicles carrying tourists to Sonamarg, Gulmarg and Pahalgam hill stations operated without any hindrance.

All major separatist political parties including those headed by Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Muhammad Yasin Malik and Shabir Shah called for a protest shutdown against the killings of former militants and activists of separatist political parties in Sopore town during the last fortnight.

So far, four former militants have been killed in Sopore town by unidentified gunmen.

The separatist allege these killings have been carried out by government sponsored gunmen.

The state government has ordered a massive manhunt to trace the assassins who according to the police belong to a breakaway group of the Hizbul Mujahideen group.

On Tuesday, police announced a bounty of Rs.10 lakh each on two Hizbul breakaway militants identified as Abdul Qayoom Najar and Imtiyaz Ahmad Kandoo.

Police have put up posters in Sopore town announcing the bounty and details of these two militants.

A team of over 500 securitymen and a dozen senior police officers are engaged in hunting down the two guerrillas – the masterminds of the killings of former militants in Sopore, according to police.

Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed will chair a meeting here to discuss the killings in Sopore.

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