Chaos in Lal Chowk after People Try to Free ‘Militant’ from Police

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SRINAGAR: Lal Chowk – Srinagar’s heart and business hub – on Saturday afternoon came to a standstill when passersby tried to save a youth from the clutches of police who they suspected to be a militant. Both sides fought a pitched battle which ended only after the detained youths real identity was revealed.

The men in uniform had to use tear gas shells to disperse civilians who came to rescue a person who was detained by cops for allegedly ransacking a hotel.

However, the detained person turned out to be a ‘mentally-challenged’ who had forced his entry into a local hotel here.

He was arrested from the hotel Taj where he allegedly broke the windowpanes forcing management to call police, eyewitnesses said. As he was being led away by a police party, some passersby, taking him for a militant, charged upon them.

Soon clashes erupted with many more people joining in.

The eyewitnesses said people took the detained man for militant after police fired several gunshots prior to his arrest.

However, police denied that their men opened aerial fire.

Police however used tear smoke shells and pepper gas to disperse the slogan shouting agitated people who were throwing stones on them.

Some tear gas canisters landed even inside the nearby press enclave during the clashes.

Soon after, otherwise busy, Lal Chowk wore a deserted look as almost all the shops and other business establishments downed their shutters while the vehicular movement was also diverted towards other roads.

Meanwhile, Superintendent of Police (SP) East (Srinagar city), Sheikh Faisal Qayoom said that some local had entered hotel Taj today and was arrested. “No firing occurred during the incident and we are currently ascertaining the facts,” he added.

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