With near-total Police breakdown, Kashmir turns into ‘liberated valley’
120 clashes, 62 Azadi processions on 56th day of continued shutdown
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Sep 2: With the situation turning from bad to worse with every passing day and the State Police passing through a near-total system breakdown for the first time in the last 20 years, as many 62 Azadi processions and 120 clashes were reported in the turbulent Kashmir valley on the 56th consecutive day of shutdown on Friday.
Officially the curfew remained in force in Srinagar and the district headquarters of Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian and Baramulla. However, reports from different areas indicated that curfew was violated by separatist demonstrators and stone pelters wherever it had been imposed. On the other hand, complete shutdown was observed in entire Kashmir valley including the border valley of Gurez which has not been a partner in the separatist movement in the last 27 years.
In the last several weeks, post the Kokernag encounter in which Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani died on July 8, the separatist movement has crossed Jawahar Tunnel and Mughal Road and begun to engulf the Muslim-dominated areas of the Poonch-Rajouri border belt and entire Chenab Valley in Jammu province.
The Government’s control in the last two months of the turmoil has shrunk to only the most fortified parts of the summer capital and nine other district headquarters as the movement of Police, security forces and law and order machinery on all the key arteries has been frozen. Srinagar-Jammu national highway has been partially brought back into the Government control though stone pelting and demonstrations have become a daily feature and the oil tanker services have been badly disrupted.
Police and security forces have surrendered all the inter-district arteries to the separatists and notwithstanding a government decision, no movement of military or paramilitary forces has been witnessed on these roads in the last two months. Most of the Police officials, including officers of the rank of SSP, have made fake civil identity cards and all of them are using private vehicles to hide themselves from the shutdown vigilantes and stone pelters.
According to insiders, hundreds of Police officials have been beaten up on roads and their vehicles have been damaged for violating Hurriyat’s shutdown call. A number of Police Stations and Police Posts have been closed down after dozens of attacks on the Police installations. Police have not visited any spot of crime including murder, attacks on civilians or Government officials, torching of properties and burglary in the last two months.
While as a section of the Police force has been guarding the Police Stations, DC’s and SSP’s offices and residences, District Police Lines and Training Schools, rest of the constabulary has been deployed to deal with the ‘law and order’ situation. In several areas, families of Police officials have been forced to migrate or tender public apologies at mosques for their “atrocities” against the people.
Today’s reports from Baramulla said that 62 workers of PDP, NC and Congress besides three Sarpanches announced their resignations and pledged to struggle for Azadi at a massive rally at Nadihal village where a youth had got killed and six others injured in Army’s firing earlier this week. Such reports have been pouring in daily from different districts. Reports say that a large number of SPOs have also dissociated themselves from Police.
Official sources told STATE TIMES that as many as 62 Azadi processions came out at different places on Friday. The participants invariably waved large Pakistani national flags and shouted pro-Pakistan, pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans. These sources said that unruly separatist crowds clashed with Police and paramilitary forces at as many as 120 places, mostly in Srinagar, Budgam, Baramulla, Bandipora, Shopian, Pulwama and Anantnag districts.
Sources said that over a hundred Police and CRPF personnel sustained injuries and fractures in these clashes while as an equal number of the protesters was believed to be injured. Till late on Friday night, 48 of the injured had reported for treatment at different hospitals in the summer capital. In most of the disturbed neighbourhoods, people living on either side of the roads complained that their houses were damaged with stones and shelling during the clashes. Residents complained that they were subjected to inhalation of the highly obnoxious pepper gas and tear smoke. Children, women and others suffering from respiratory complications were the worst affected.
In Karan Nagar, Srinagar, Police forcibly entered a residential house and laid ambush for the stone pelters. Five of the stone pelters were trapped and arrested. Immediately after the Police withdrew, a group of stone pelters barged into the house and began setting the house on fire. Seeking mercy, the women inmates wept bitterly and beseeched the youths not to burn down their house. Still the stone pelters set on fire one motorcycle at the premises.
LeT hails stone-pelters
Terming the stone throwers as “front-runners” of the Kashmir’s freedom movement, militant outfit Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) in a statement today hailed their “spirit and courage” saying they were fighting the bullets and other weapons with just stones.
The LeT spokesman Dr Abdullah Ghaznavi, while quoting the Jihadist group’s chief Mehmood Shah, said Kashmiri youths by sacrificing their lives wanted to send a clear message to the world that “they would never accept Indian slavery”.
Body of a teenager, Danish Sultan Haroo of Palpora, was fished out from river Jhelum today, raising the death toll to 72 in the last eight weeks of the turbulence. As already reported, four boys had jumped into the river while being chased allegedly by CRPF in Noorbagh area of Srinagar last evening. Even as three of them swam across to the other bank, Danish drowned to death. Residents, claiming to be eyewitnesses, said that the boy made desperate attempts to come out of the water but the forces around did not let him surface until he died.
According to Zonal Police Headquarters spokesman, curfew was imposed in Srinagar, towns of Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian and Baramulla today. He said that 35 stone pelting incidents were reported from Srinagar, Sopore, Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian, Baramulla, Bandipora, Kulgam and Kupwara till Friday evening. “At these places, after Friday prayers, miscreants assembled on the roads and pelted stones on police and security force deployments,” he said.
The spokesman said that some unknown persons set ablaze a vocational training Centre at Watirgam in the jurisdiction of Police Station Dangiwacha (Sopore) resulting in complete damage to the structure.
[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]