'Shutdown vigilantes' set on fire two autos in Srinagar; militants attack Police Station in Kulgam
Dukhtaraan-e-Millat chairperson Asiya Andrabi held; intense checking of vehicles after Police learns about possible terror strike on Bypass
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Oct 4: While as suspected militants on Tuesday attacked a Police Station in Kulgam district of southern Kashmir, suspected shutdown vigilantes set ablaze two autorickshaws apparently for defying the separatists’ call on 88th consecutive day of turbulence, triggered by Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s killing in an encounter on July 8.
Informed sources said that unidentified persons set on fire two autorickshaws, bearing registration numbers JK01X-4429 and JK01H-7913, one after another, at Babademb and Sayeedakadal, in the capital city. Police have registered two separate criminal cases and started investigation to identify and arrest the culprits.
SSP Srinagar Amit Kumar told STATE TIMES that two persons masquerading as passengers hired a three-wheeler at Tourist Reception Centre (TRC) for a lift to Kralkhud area of Habbakadal. As the driver dropped them at their given destination near Babademb, both the persons sprinkled petrol on the auto and set it on fire. While the owner-driver began crying and screaming, residents gathered and doused the flames. However the auto suffered extensive damage.
SSP Srinagar said that the residents expressed resentment against the unidentified persons’ act of burning down a poor driver’s auto---possibly his only means of livelihood. He said an investigation would make the things clear but as of now it was believed to be the handiwork of the people who wanted to teach a lesson to the commercial vehicle owners defying the separatists’ call for continued shutdown since July 9th. After nearly three months of shutdown without a single day of relaxation, private vehicles in Srinagar and some other districts are swelling on the streets and some load-carriers and taxis, including three-wheelers, are operating in defiance of the call in relatively safer areas of the summer capital.
Significantly, the separatists in their latest calendar have asked the Kashmiri youths to enforce their call for shutdown. While as hundreds of vehicles have been damaged in stone pelting, a number of them, including some autorickshaws and trucks have been torched on roads.
In another incident on Tuesday, SSP Srinagar said, an unidentified person driving a motorcycle asked an autorickshaw driver at Sayeedakadal to carry a passenger to some destination in downtown Srinagar. The driver refused to oblige him. In a few minutes, another person, driving a motorcycle without number plate, appeared at the same spot, sprinkled petrol on the three-wheeler and set it on fire. SSP said that Police had launched a manhunt for the suspects who could be identified on basis of eyewitness accounts and CCTV footage.
Earlier in the day, Police raised nakas and conducted extensive search of all incoming vehicles in Srinagar after learning through a message from Police Control Room that militants were likely to carry out a major terror strike on Police and security forces on the national highway Bypass. However, none of the suspects could be spotted or arrested.
Reports said that the groups of youngsters clashed with Police and paramilitary forces at around 20 spots in Srinagar and elsewhere in the Valley on Tuesday while as the separatists organised peaceful demonstrations and assemblies at over a dozen places in the rural districts. Around 90 people, including four Police personnel, have got killed and thousands injured in unceasing clashes in Kashmir in the last three months. Most of the senior separatist leaders have been either jailed or placed in house arrest even as around 700 persons have been detained under Public Safety Act on charges of organising anti-India and pro-Pakistan demonstrations, arson and clashes with Police.
Police Station attacked
Official sources said that a group of four to five heavily armed militants attacked Police Station Yaripora in Kulgam district late on Tuesday night from a distance of 25 yards. Police retaliated with automatic guns and the encounter continued for about 15 minutes. Sources said that the militants withdrew. Nobody from either side suffered any damage.
Asiya Andrabi arrested
Meanwhile, Police on Tuesday intercepted a vehicle near Babademb and took into custody Dukhtaraan-e-Millat chairperson and fire-brand pro-Pakistan leader Asiya Andrabi alongwith her organisation’s General Secretary Fehmeeda Sofi. SSP Srinagar Amit Kumar confirmed that both the separatist activists had been arrested in the criminal cases already registered against them. He said that both the detainees had been, for the time being, lodged at Women’s Police Station, Rambagh.