Towns Seethe Over Arrests, Curfew Back In Kupwara


Protests, Clashes, Shutdown In Pulwama, Shopian, Tral, Bandipur

SRINAGAR: Authorities re-imposed curfew in Kupwara town amid a rampage by paramilitary men after protests over arrests turned violent on Saturday, with clashes also breaking out in some other towns in north and south Kashmir where shutdowns prevented resumption of everyday business as the government eased a two-day valley-wide clampdown.

Over a dozen people, including a deputy superintendent of police (DSP) and three other personnel, were injured in the violence recurring since the execution of Muhammad Afzal Guru in Delhi’s Tihar Jail on February 9.

The Valley’s latest spell of trouble began Wednesday with the killing of a Srinagar youth by the CRPF barely hours after five jawans of the paramilitary force lost their lives in a deadly fidayeen attack which also left two militants dead.

On the boil since yesterday over the arrest of local youth for brick-batting, the northern Kupwara town poured out in protest on Saturday demanding their release, reports said.

Clashes began in the shutdown town when police and paramilitary forces tried to disperse the protestors who retaliated with stones.

Fierce brick-batting and heavy tear gas shelling left a number of people injured, with locals saying that CRPF ran amok by beating up pedestrians and smashing shops, houses and vehicles.

Irate paramilitary men were said to have torn off hood-boxes (which house rolled-up shutters) from a number of shops, and the police rounded up eight more youth across the town,

Additional forces were moved in to control the situation and enforce a renewed curfew, but clashes were reported to persist in some areas like Regipora, Mir Mohalla, Darzi Mohalla, and the by-pass where violent crowds damaged a police vehicle.

Violence also broke out in the southern town of Pulwama where the police had detained five youth after brick-batting late yesterday evening.

Groups of youth attacked shops and vehicles in several areas of the town when business began to resume this morning after two days of curfew.

Demanding the release of the arrested locals, crowds held violent protests in the Maran Chowk and  Rajpora Chowk, but the forces were reported to have exercised restraint initially in the face of stone-pelting, and retaliated in kind later when the attacks showed no let up.

Locals alleged that forces personnel beat up pedestrians and shopkeepers while chasing violent protestors.

Faced with mounting demonstrations, authorities eventually let all  the arrested youth go.

Trouble also broke out in the Shopian town of south Kashmir when the police arrested a local shopkeeper, Muhammad Qasim Mangu, when markets began to open this morning.

The news of Mangu’s arrest sparked off a wave of protests in the area as groups of youth took to the streets, attacking vehicles and shops with stones and bringing the town to a standstill again.

Revolutionary songs were played over mosque loudspeakers, urging people to protest the shopkeeper’s arrest and shut down.

A shutdown was observed in the Tral township also amid protests over the arrest of five local youth for damaging a building of the J and K Bank yesterday.

Suspecting that they were being filmed form its upper floors during protests, crowds had pelted stones and smashed the window-panes of the building on Friday.

Protests and severe clashes over nocturnal arrests were also reported from the Ajas, Naid Khai, Hajan and Safapora areas of Bandipur also.

The areas remained shut down against the detentions, while protestors fought pitched battles with the forces who retaliated with cane charges and tear gas.  

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