Kin of detained drivers again hold protests

Baramulla: For the second time in last three days, the families of 27 Kashmiri truck drivers detained in Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK) staged protest demonstrations here Monday demanding release of the detained men.
On January 17, authorities in PaK detained 27 drivers and their trucks carrying goods from this side to demand release of their truck driver detained by Kashmir police for allegedly carrying narcotics worth Rs 100 crore.
Police had detained driver of the truck Mohammad Shafiq, son of Abdul Aziz Sarar of Muzaffarabad, who was carrying dry fruits marketed by Al-Fajar Trading Company based in Muzaffarabad. The challan of the vehicle had mentioned almonds as the goods being imported from PaK.
While Pakistan has been demanding release of the driver arrested in Uri, the Indian government has made it clear that the law of the land will take its course in respect of the PaK driver and the vehicle detained in connection with the recovery of brown sugar.
Meanwhile, the family members, including the children of the 27 drivers detained at Trade Centre Chakoti, Muzaffarabad, converged near the Uri bus stand and staged demonstrations. Chanting slogans, the protesters were demanding immediate release of the detained men. The protesters also blocked Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway causing disruption in the traffic.
“My elder brother is a heart patient. We have come to know that he is not keeping well. We’re deeply worried about his safety. My brother and other drivers should be freed at the earliest,” Saima, whose brother Abdul Rashid Khan is among the detained drivers, told Kashmir Reader.
She said though the state administration has made emergency call centre at Salamabad, it was not possible for every family to visit there.
Another protester, Shazia, said she had no information about her brother Altaf Ahmad, lone bread earner of the family. She said reports of drivers being ill were giving sleepless nights to her family.
“From last 15 days, we have not received any news of my brother. We want this crisis to be resolved soon so that our family members return home,” she added.
Riyaz Ahmad, whose younger brother is among the detained drivers, said, “My brother told me on phone that they have been put up in a tin shed and that many of them have been taken ill.”
President of the Truck Owners Association, Baramulla, Abdul Majeed Akhoon threatened to launch a stir if the state government fails to get the drivers released in next two days.
“We’ll take to streets and stage protests. We’ll block all the roads,” he added.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Baramulla, Zubair Ahmad Khan, who met the protesters, assured that he’ll take up the issue with the higher authorities.