SHOPIAN: The disappearance of a popular local youth from police custody brought out people on the streets and government troops were pelted with stones on Thursday in Shopian, where a shutdown was also observed following calls made from mosque loudspeakers on Wednesday evening. All business establishments and the majority of schools stayed closed in Shopian. About seven vehicles were partially damaged by protesters near Bongam, the old bus stand, and Bonbazar areas of the town to ensure the shutdown. In the evening, police arrested two local youth from near the Mohamadiya school in the main town, locals told Kashmir Reader.
Zubair Ahmad Turay, according to his family, was in police custody from March 3, but police admitted to arresting him only two days later. Earlier this week, police told Zubair’s family that he had escaped from Keegam police station on May 1. The family has refused to believe the police claim and fears for the safety of Zubair.
On Wednesday evening, announcements were made from mosque loudspeakers in the town that an indefinite shutdown and general strike has to be observed in the entire district in protest against the disappearance of Zubair from police custody. Following these announcements, local youth came out on the streets on Thursdayand pelted government troops deployed at several places with stones. Locals said there was no retaliation from the troops but at about 4.30pm, police arrested two local boys near the Mohamadiya school.
On hearing news about the arrest of the two boys, people come out of their houses and chanted pro-freedom slogans on mosque loudspeakers.
The district’s senior superintendent of police said he did not have information about the arrest of two local boys.
Zubair’s father Bashir Ahmad Turay told Kashmir Reader that his son was arrested on March 3 when he was on his way home from Humhama, where he had been summoned by CIK Humhama.
“There was no FIR against him and his earlier detention had been quashed by court on February 24. Police released him on February 28 but two days later arrested him again. On May 1, police called me on my phone and said that Zubair had escaped from police custody,” Bashir said.
Bashir said he could not believe that his son had escaped from police custody. “They (government and police) are the authors of black laws and they are also the violators of these so-called laws. Where would I search for my son now? I am helpless. We can’t sleep at night. My wife is all the time asking me about our son,” he said.
“Give me back my son. Why did they put him in custody when he was released by the court? I swear to Allah I don’t know where my son is. Police have snatched away our support in our old age,” Bashir said.
Zubair, according to locals, is popular in Shopian for helping needy people and those injured in clashes with government troops. “Zubair was pious from childhood. He would always pray five times a day. You will never hear that he quarrelled or did anything bad to anyone. The occupational forces have ruined his life and Zubair’s family’s as well,” a neighbour and friend of Zubair said.
Shopian superintendent of police S A Dinker said that steps were being taken to locate Zubair. “I can’t talk about the indefinite strike. We are investigating the whereabouts of Zubair and we are available here for information,” he said.
He added that police are in contact with Zubair’s family and the investigation is going on. “Zubair’s father, Bashir Ahmad Turay, was today in my office. We discussed the matter with him,” Dinker said.