Government forces fear student protests can impact south Kashmir

Government forces fear student protests can impact south Kashmir
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Srinagar: The week-long student protests across Kashmir have increased apprehensions among the government forces that the protests can worsen the situation in south Kashmir areas, sources said.
According to an official, the deteriorating situation in Srinagar can have implications in rural areas of Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam districts, where Lok Sabha by-elections are scheduled on May 25.
The polling was earlier to be held on April 12 in these areas but after the killing of eight youth and lowest ever voter turnout in the by-poll for the Srinagar parliamentary constituency on April 9, the Anantnag constituency by-poll was postponed. The areas falling under the Anantnag parliamentary constituency had witnessed massive protests, killings and rallies during the 2016 uprising, triggered by the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani.
“The student protests erupted after an incident in Pulwama Degree College. While most of the classes have resumed in south Kashmir, the recent protests in Lal Chowk have raised our concerns again,” the official said.
Apart from these protests, the local population’s hostility towards the counter-insurgency operations also remains one of the major challenges faced by the forces in the Valley.
In these poll-bound areas, locals have attempted to disrupt anti-militancy operations leading to the killing of civilian protesters near encounter sites. In the latest incident, an operation was called off after a cordon was laid in Padgampora area of Awantipora.
Even as polling is scheduled next month, forces said there would not be any halt in anti-militancy operations despite concerns raised by several political parties in the fray to avoid counter insurgency-operations till elections are held.
“There will not be any halt. Whenever there is an input, the operations against militants will be carried out. There was no violence when re-polling was held in Budgam areas. We will make all security arrangements so that polling is held freely in Anantnag as well,” DGP Shesh Paul Vaid told Kashmir Reader.
Yet, there is growing apprehension in the ranks of political parties that an outbreak of protests in south Kashmir is imminent, especially in the wake of student protests and locals disrupting counter-insurgency operations.
“Given the situation, it is not feasible to hold polls in these areas and we expect that the polling will be deferred further,” a PDP leader said.

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