Fear looms as North votes today

Officer among 3 CRPF men hurt in Sopore firing; Could be misfire: Police

BARAMULLA: In the backdrop of violent public reaction during previous phases of polling in North and Central Kashmir, authorities have fortified nearly entire North Kashmir where the voting is due on Wednesday. Suspected militants fired at a 179 Bn CRPF bunker near State Bank in Sopore late Tuesday evening, Police sources said adding three CRPF men including an Assistant Commandant were injured. The hunker has been there for past two decades.

A Police spokesman suspected that the incident could be due to a misfire. “An incident of firing has been reported from Sopore. Two personnel of 179 Bn CRPF have got injured in their legs. Police is looking into it whether it is a misfire or a militant fire,” said a police statement.

“The militants took the advantage of the darkness and managed to escape,” a top police official said adding that a manhunt had been launched to nab the attackers. “We shall ensure that they don’t plot any attacks during the polling on Wednesday,” he said. Quoting unconfirmed reports, a GNS bulletin said that a civilian also sustained injuries in the firing incident. Army’s 22 RR, CRPF and SOG personnel cordoned off the whole area and started searches to nab the attackers.

Frisking and roadside checking of vehicles marked the run up to the poll since early this week. Reports said unprecedented security arrangements have been put in place across North Kashmir’s parliament constituency, which comprises three districts, with additional measures being taken up for Sopore. The town, police believes, is a hub of militancy.

While confirming the crackdown on youth, Deputy Inspector General of police North Kashmir Ghulam Hasan Bhat said, ‘Some stone-pelters and trouble mongers have been lodged in police stations to maintain clam on the polling day,” he said. Police have been taking “preventive measures” and have arrested hundreds of  stone pelters and “trouble mongers” in this range. Police said that arrests have been effected in North Kashmir and around 60 stone pelters have been taken into preventive custody. Pertinently, a renowned scholar Dr. G Q Lone of Rafiabad, who has authored several books on Sufi Islam, has also been lodged in District Jail Kupwara. “It’s a preventive measure,” said a top police official.

In order to ensure peaceful poll, the authorities have deployed additional 250 companies of paramilitary personnel comprising of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) in North Kashmir’s three districts that make for the single seat going to poll on Wednesday. Besides, the battalions of Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police (JKAP) and Jammu and Kashmir Police will also be deployed.

The polling stations will be taken over by forces by this evening, officials said.

Meanwhile Police said unidentified persons hurled a  petrol bomb at Government Girls High School at Watergam in Rafiabad area of Baramulla district where a polling station has reportedly been set up for Wednesday’s polls.

Police said that the bomb was hurled with an intention to scare polling staff but added that there was no designated polling booth in the said building.

Eyewitnesses said that some windowpanes of the school building got damaged. “Government had already declared holiday for all the schools in Baramulla. There was no one present in the school. We are investigating the case and those behind the action would be nabbed soon,” a police official said.

Head Master of the School Ehsan-ul-Haq said that on the directions of the Deputy Commissioner Baramulla, they cleaned all the rooms of the school and had taken care of everything to make the job of polling staff easier. “I received the message about the blash in the morning but fortunately, it has not caused any major damage,” he said.

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