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Battling the deadliest spell of Violence: Kashmir calm but tense as curfew, shutdown continue

"I appeal to everybody to restore calm and peace so that further loss of lives is avoided," the CM Mehbooba Mufti said

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Violence Struck Kashmir. Image Source: newsdog.today
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  • Life remained paralysed almost across the South Kashmir due to the restriction and separatist-called shutdown
  • The Jammu-Srinagar highway was blocked due to continuous curfew
  • CM Mehbooba Mufti paid tributes to the 1931 martyrs and made a fresh appeal for calm in the valley where at least 35 civilians and a policeman have been killed

The restive Kashmir Valley, battling the deadliest spell of violence in years, appeared calm but tense on Wednesday, July 13, amid sporadic incidents of stone-pelting clashes even as large areas continued to be under strict curfew for the fifth day.

Two more persons wounded in street fighting in the past four days died here early on Wednesday, taking the death toll to 36 in the violence triggered by the death of a top militant on July 8.

Life remained paralysed almost across the valley due to the restriction and separatist-called shutdown. South Kashmir – the worst hit in the latest bout of unrest – was virtually cut off from the rest of the state amid snapped private cellphone services and strict prohibitory orders.

However, the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) cellphone network was functional.

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The Jammu-Srinagar highway, the only all-weather motorable link to the valley that passes through south Kashmir, was blocked due to continuous curfew. Private traffic to and from Srinagar on the highway is allowed only at night, officials said.

In Srinagar, roads were deserted while shops and other businesses, banks and private offices were closed. There was a thin presence of employees in the government secretariat. People in the old city complained of hardships as supplies of essentials had begun to dry up in the five days of curfew.

Wednesday, July 13, a police spokesman said here, passed off peacefully amid fears that separatist leaders may stoke trouble.

They had called for a protest march to observe “Martyrs’ Day” in remembrance of Kashmiris killed in police firing on protesters against the Dogra rule on July 13, 1931.

Top separatists Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani, in house detention for five days, defied the restrictions and tried to walk towards the martyrs’ graveyard in curfew-bound oldSrinagar. Police detained them briefly.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, however, visited the graveyard under a heavy security cover with her senior cabinet colleagues.

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She paid tributes to the 1931 martyrs and made a fresh appeal for calm in the valley where at least 35 civilians and a policeman have been killed in clashes between security forces and protesters since the killing of the militant commander, Burhan Wani. More than 1,500 people have been injured.

Burhan Muzaffar Wani. Image source: www.india.com
Burhan Muzaffar Wani. Image source: www.india.com

“I appeal to everybody to restore calm and peace so that further loss of lives is avoided,” the Chief Minister said.

Mehbooba Mufti said “the loss of precious lives” in firing by security forces was “regretted but nothing can bring them back.

“While I am deeply grieved, my grief cannot match that of the families who have lost their near and dear ones,” she said. Her Peoples Democratic Party has its political base in the worst-hit south Kashmir.

The region has witnessed 33 of the 36 deaths. One person each was killed in Srinagar and north Kashmir’s Kupwara district. (IANS)

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New Australia Bill Gives Police Power to Spy on WhatsApp Messages

The spying powers are limited to only "serious offences" such as preventing terrorism and tackling organised crime in Australia, dailymail.co.uk reported

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New Australia bill gives police power to spy on WhatsApp messages.

Australia is mulling a strict law that gives enforcement agencies power to track messages on platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram that offer end-to-end encryption and also to force users to open their smartphones when demanded, a media report said.

The controversial encryption bill comes at a time amid allegations of encrypted platforms facilitating spread of rumours, hate speech and even criminal activities like child trafficking and drugs businesses.

In countries like India messages circulated in WhatsApp have been linked to several lynching cases, forcing the government to ask platform to take suitable preventive action.

But the new Australia bill also raises privacy concerns as under the proposed legislation, the Australian government agencies could compel companies to build spyware.

The proposed laws could force companies to remove electronic protections, assist government agencies in accessing material from a suspect’s device, and in getting technical information such as design specifications to help in an investigation, News.com.au reported on Wednesday.

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WhatsApp on a smartphone device. Pixabay

Critics have slammed the bill for being broad in scope, vague and potentially damaging to the security of the global digital economy, the report said, adding that a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has been scrutinising the bill.

The laws will help security agencies nab terrorists, child sex offenders and other serious criminals, Australia’s Attorney-General Christian Porter was quoted as saying.

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About 95 per cent of people currently being surveilled by security agencies are using encrypted messages, he added.

The spying powers are limited to only “serious offences” such as preventing terrorism and tackling organised crime in Australia, dailymail.co.uk reported. (IANS)