SRINAGAR: Handwara, the epicentre of ongoing unrest in Kashmir, and its adjoining areas continued to witness trouble today, prompting re-imposition of curfew-like restrictions after a three-hour relaxation even though mobile internet services were restored after four-day suspension.
As the cycle of violence showed no signs of stopping, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti appealed to the people to help restore peace, promising severe punishment to those found guilty in Handwara and Kupwara incidents during which five civilians were killed in firing by security forces.
Authorities today gave a three-hour relaxation from curfew-like restrictions in Handwara town in Kupwara district and adjoining areas from 8 am to 11 am with an intention of extending it if the period passed off peacefully.
However, the relaxation period saw around 150 youth pelting stones in Handwara town, a police official said.
"The protestors were chased away and there was no damage," he said, adding that the curbs were then re-imposed.
"Restrictions were imposed again in Handwara, Trehgam and Kralgund areas of Kupwara district following violent protests," the official said.
In Srinagar, a group of students at Kashmir University staged a protest inside the Hazratbal campus against the killings in Handwara and Kupwara towns, the official said.
He said a handful of students also organised a similar protest at Islamic University of Science and Technology in Awantipora area of Pulwama district.
At both the varsities, the students dispersed peacefully.
The authorities also restored mobile internet services across Kashmir valley at the stroke of midnight after keeping the services suspended for four days.
The decision to restore the mobile internet services was taken as there was no major incident of protest or violence across Kashmir valley yesterday.
Handwara town in north Kashmir and some adjoining areas have been under curfew-like restrictions since Tuesday last following allegations of molestation of a girl which triggered violence.
Three persons including a woman were killed in firing by security forces on protestors on Tuesday while two more persons were killed in separate security forces's action against protestors on Wednesday at Drugmulla and on Friday at Nathnusa.
The Chief Minister, who was in Jammu, underlined the need for peace and tranquility in the state, saying these are a prerequisite for development and if they are absent, it is the common people who bear the burden.
"I appeal to my people especially to the youth that wherever there is injustice, strict action would be taken and severe punishment would be given," she said while talking to reporters on the sidelines of an event.
She was asked about the action taken against those involved in the violence in Handwara and Kupwara that left five persons dead.
"If there is peace, there will be development, happiness, tourism and people will lead a prosperous life. And if God forbid, there is no peace, our people would be the worst sufferers.
"That is why I appeal to the youth and their parents and their families that help us in restoring peace in Jammu and Kashmir so that the state can develop and the miseries of the state should go away," Mehbooba said.
Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh alleged that there was a conspiracy behind the recent spurt of violence in the Kashmir Valley.
"Definitely there is a conspiracy to disturb peace in areas like Kupwara and Handwara. These areas remained peaceful when there was turmoil in other parts (of the Valley).
"The anti-national elements, the anti-people elements have succeeded in creating a rumour which ultimately led to the unfortunate situation (violence)," Singh, who was also present at the event, later told reporters.
He said that the aspirations of the people would be fulfilled only when there is peace in the state and it was the duty of every person to maintain peace.
"We went to Handwara with the Chief Minister and definitely tension is there. Kupwara is a peaceful area. The violence is very unfortunate. Government is ensuring that this type of situation does not arise in future," he said.
Asked what action would be taken against those responsible for the "rumour", he said, "Definitely the law will take its own course and everything shall be taken care of once peace is fully restored."