Srinagar: In an apparent move to ‘force’ commuters to keep their vehicles off the roads during the strike hours, a group of masked men on Monday morning set ablaze two Sumo taxi vehicles in Parimpora area of Srinagar city.
The masked youth, according to official sources, appeared at Barthana near Parimpora early on Monday, thrashed the drivers and asked the passengers to get down, before setting the vehicles on fire. Earlier, in a similar incident, two auto rickshaws were set ablaze in Srinagar this month by unidentified persons for ferrying passengers during strike hours.
The incident took place on day 101 of the ongoing unrest when there were more signs of fatigue over the prolonged shutdown with more vehicles plying on roads.
Eyewitnesses said that shortly after setting the two Sumos (JK05B-5863 and JK09-9209) on fire, the masked youth disappeared from the scene. “They (masked youth) didn’t touch us but roughed up the drivers. They blamed drivers for sabotaging the ongoing freedom movement,” said a passenger shortly after the incident adding that the incident took place at around 7:45 AM near Mandi Crossing Parimpora area of the capital city.
These two vehicles were coming from Kupwara and as per sources belonged to Jehangir Ahmad Dar of Cherkote Lolab and Muhammad Yusuf Khataba of Kalaroos.
A police official said that they have registered a case and investigation has been taken up to identify the persons responsible for these acts.
In Civil Lines and uptown area of the Srinagar, extra-ordinary movement of private transport and pedestrians was seen since early morning but all the shops, commercial establishments and educational institutions remained closed. Besides, the vendors had set up their stalls at Batamaloo, Lal Chowk, Dalgate, Sonwar, Jehangir Chowk, Exhibition crossing and Jawahar Nagar. The forces were deployed at sensitive areas in strength.
Hundreds of CRPF personnel were deployed in five police station areas of Srinagar’s old city – MR Gunj, Nowhatta, Safa Kada, Rainwari and Khanyar– since early morning. There was however civilian movement without any disruption in all these areas. The areas like Habba Kadal and Maisuma were also under thick security cover.
In the evening, all the markets across Srinagar opened in the wake of deal as per ‘resistance calendar’ after 5pm. The city markets including Lal Chowk witnessed huge rush of people and there were reports of heavy traffic jams from many civil lines areas.
Reports said that a complete shutdown was also observed in other parts of the Valley including in south and north Kashmir district.
At Samboora area of south Kashmir, army’s 50 RR and SOG after receiving a specific input about the presence of some militants cordoned off the area and started search operation.
However, according to local sources, the residents came out of their houses and resisted their attempt to raid houses. A massive stone-pelting on forces ensued resulting in clashes between the two sides. The police retaliated by firing teargas shells and the clashes continued for over one hour in the area after which the army and SOG lifted the cordon and retreated without conducting any operation.
Reports from old town area of Baramulla district said that a massive crackdown was launched by army, police and CRPF since 3 am to 3 pm today and nearly 35 persons were arrested for their role in pro-freedom protests. The reports said that the forces placed the old town under siege and conducted house-to-house searches.
Locals said that it was the ‘longest ever’ crackdown in last 15 years.
According to a statement issued by the Zonal Police Headquarters Kashmir, situation across the Kashmir valley remained largely peaceful today. “Normal movement of traffic was seen with shops open and vendors dotting the roads lanes and by lanes across Kashmir. In the morning some miscreants in their attempt to disrupt the normal flow of traffic set on fire two vehicles near fruit Mandi, Srinagar,” the press statement said.
The statement said that taking cognizance of the crime police registered a case under FIR number 231/2016 in police station Parimpora and started investigation, six miscreants involved in this crime have been identified and a manhunt has been launched to arrest them.
Meanwhile, the statement said that in its continuous drive against the trouble-mongers police arrested 60 individual involved in disrupting public order in different parts of the valley.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.