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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Nocturnal raids, arrests trigger protests, clashes; life remains crippled

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SRINAGAR: Hundreds of youth defied undeclared curfew in this north Kashmir town to protest against the arrest of eleven youth during nocturnal raids and the killing of two youth allegedly in CRPF firing on Saturday. Locals said that they approached the Deputy Inspector General of police north Kashmir, Abdul Gani Mir last night and sought his intervention. “ The DIG assured us that the youth would be set free till morning. Despite his assurance youth were not released,” the locals added.

As police didn’t release the arrested youth hundreds of people defied the undeclared curfew and took to the streets in old town this morning seeking their release, and demanding action against the erring troopers who killed two youth on Saturday. One of the youth, Mansoor Ali of Khanpora, was shot dead allegedly by a bodyguard of a Congress candidate. Later another youth was killed when troopers opened fire on mourners carrying Ali’s body.

Policemen and paramilitary troopers who were deployed in strength in the area resorted to baton charge and fired numerous tear smoke canisters to disperse them. Youth formed small groups and retaliated by pelting stones, triggering clashes. The pitched battles between the angry youth and force personnel continued throughout the day.

Life remained crippled in this north Kashmir town for third consecutive day as policemen and paramilitary CRPF troopers didn’t allow people to come out of their homes. All the three bridges connecting civil lines with the old town were sealed.

A resident of Mohalla Jadeed, Abdur Rasheed Bhat, blamed local administration for the prevailing tension in the town. “Officials should not have allowed the Congress candidate to pass from the town on Saturday. They (officials) knew it very well that situation is tense and anything can happen. Had officials shown presence of mind these unfortunate incidents could have been avoided.”

Residents of old town accused paramilitary CRPF men of barging into the houses and beating up the inmates. “In past two days they (troopers) smashed window panes of nearly 60 houses. Whenever they enter into the town, instead of chasing away the protesters, they start thrashing innocent people and ransack the houses,” said Ghulam Rasool of old town.

The divisional commissioner Kashmir, Masood Samoon and inspector general of police- Kashmir zone, Dr Sriniwasan visited the town this afternoon and held a meeting with the senior citizens including the presidents of Varmul Bar association, Beopar Mandal and Auqaf. “We had a detailed discussion with the divisional commissioner and asked him to get the arrested youth released immediately. We also demanded setting up of an independent commission to probe the killings of innocent youth. We apprised him about the reign of terror unleashed by the troopers.

The officials assured us that our grievances would be looked into and stern action would be taken against erring troopers,” said one of the participants who attended the meeting.-SANA

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