Army shuts down youth club, effaces its name from town hall building

Bandipora: It seems that news of ambulance drivers effacing the names of politicians from their vehicles to avoid public anger has reached the defence forces too. The army in Bandipora has effaced the name of its ‘youth club’ from the town hall building and has also removed its sign boards around the building.
The town hall building which comes under the jurisdiction of municipal committee Bandipora, in the heart of the town inside the famous Nishat Park, was a few months ago taken over by army to construct a “youth club”(Chinar 9 Jawan Club) under the army’s Operation Sadhbawana. In this youth club the army had constructed a gym centre and computer institute for youth.
There has been public anger against the move ever since the Town Hall was handed over to the army, without any explanation from the municipal or district administration as to what terms the building was being given to Army on.
Locals were also annoyed by the news that the army was to open its gym centre for girls of the area too. Despite the local resentment, the army’s 14RR unit came up with the club and adorned it with sign-boards, painted hoardings and pictures depicting the army’s achievements in engaging youth of Kashmir.
But after Burhan Wani’s killing, anger against central and state forces has been rising with every passing day. In Bandipora town, a massive gathering that offered funeral prayers for Burhan on July 9 went to the martyrs’ graveyard and while returning, youth torched the BSF’s post near a park. The clashes led to BSF firing several rounds of bullets, but it was not enough as the angry youth set the post ablaze. The police contingents were soon rushed to the spot to disperse them with heavy tear smoke shells, batons and pellets. The attack was taken into notice by the district administration which took it to with higher officials and the illegally occupied of at least 2.5 kanals of land was evacuated by BSF after 47 years. “The attack was very threatening and to remove the “post” was a joint decision taken with the chief minister,” a top official in the administration shared.
It was only a week after this that youth tried to set ablaze the “youth club” during the night. They had burned sign boards and hoardings but the building was safe. “It was like a warning from protesters: that the army should stop the club as there were many misconceptions about it,” one of the locals, not wishing to be named, said.
Within a single night after the failed attack, the army removed equipment and furniture from the building to give the impression that they have vacated it. The signs on the wall were painted white. “It is clear that the army, to avoid public rage, have effaced the writing, maybe only for a while,” a local said.
The army is facing stiff resistance in the district’s villages. Large number of protests have been taking place in areas where hardly any protests occurred due to heavy army presence. Villages like Khunoosa, Pazalpora,Saderkoot, Mantrigam, Ajas, Ajar, Guroora have been protesting frequently and the army has been accused of harassment and thrashing of villagers. Top police officials also call the army’s presence “frustrating”. At ‘Mardar’, a ‘garrison’ village and Headquarters of the BSF, a senior police officer openly sits in protest against the army.

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