By Azim Jan
Bandipora: A complete shutdown was observed for the second consecutive day Friday in main town of this north Kashmir district to protest the arrest of youth on charges of stone pelting and the alleged high handedness of the government forces.
Like Thursday, all shops, offices, commercial establishments remained closed, while public transport was off the roads in Main Town here to protest the arrest of youth, including two minors by CRPF troopers and police on charges of pelting stones on the government forces during the violent protests on February 9 and 11 marking the death anniversaries of Mohammad Maqbool Bhat and Mohammad Afzal Guru, reports said Friday. The alleged beating of traders and a bank driver identified as Shahbaz Ahmad by the forces on Thursday evening also added to the tension in the town.
“A joint team of army, CRPF and police without any provocation thrashed many shopkeepers and the passerby at the Gulshan Chowk on Thursday evening. Due to severe beating, the bank driver was hospitalized. We condemn the high handedness of the forces,” a group of traders, who were protesting at the Main Chowk, told Kashmir Reader.
Later in the day, hundreds of people from Ayatmulla assembled at the Main Chowk and staged demonstrations. Chanting slogans, the protesters were demanding the release of Arif Hussani Wani, son of Abdul Samad Wani, a first year student, who was arrested on January 26, booked under PSA and instantly shifted to Udhampur jail.
“The government is playing with Arif’s career. He has to appear in examination on Saturday. We demand his immediate release,”
The protesters later met Deputy Commissioner (DC) Bandipora, Shah Faisal and sought his intervention to secure the release of the student. However, Faisal told the delegation that the youth has been slapped with PSA by his predecessor Mohammad Yusuf Zargar. However, he assured the delegation that he’ll explore all available options to get their grievance redressed.
Meanwhile, sporadic clashes were witnessed at Gulshan Chowk and Papchan between protesters and the forces. At Papchan, angry protesters hurled rocks and bricks on the CRPF camp triggering off clashes. The clashes continued for some time. However, no one was injured.