Shopian, Tral shut over arrests; protests in Sopore

SHABIR AHMAD
ANANTNAG: Arrest of militants’ kin in Tral township following the killing of three persons, including a Panchayat member, triggered a complete shutdown in the area on Wednesday.
On Monday evening, suspected militants shot dead three men, including a Sarpanch and his son and a numberdar in two separate attacks in Tral. Next day, police arrested at least eight relatives of local militants of the area, sparking protests. The police had reportedly shifted some of the detainees to Special Operations Group of Police’s headquarters in Srinagar. “Police is asking them to make their sons, who are labeled by police as militants, to surrender,” the locals said.
To protest the arrests, all shops, other business establishments, private offices and educational institutions remained shut in Tral town and its adjoining areas amid huge deployment of government forces.
Groups of youth also resorted to stone pelting at a polling station in Dadsara village. As soon as the polling staff, accompanied by paramilitary forces, reached the polling station, groups of youth assembled outside the booth and pelted stones at CRPF troopers. “The troopers threw back stones towards the youth. The clashes between the two sides continued for some time,” reports said.
Meanwhile, shutdown continued for third consecutive day on Wednesday in Shopian town against the arrest of several youth by the police during last few days. All the shops and other commercial establishments remained closed in the township. Demanding release of the youth, people in Kanipora and Aliyalpora areas of the district had on Tuesday staged protests and blocked the Mughal Road for many hours. Police had to resort to cane charge to quell the protests.
Deputy Inspector General of Police, south Kashmir range, Vijay Kumar, said that over a dozen youth have been taken into “preventive custody” in Shopian and Tral areas.
“The youth have been taken into preventive custody to ensure smooth polling in the towns. They will be released after the polling is over,” DIG said. He denied reports about arrests of over 200 youth across south Kashmir ahead of polls.
Protests in Sopore over arrests
In north Kashmir’s Sopore town, protests were held on Wednesday against the arrest of 16 youths who were picked up from their homes by police on Monday night.
The protesters took to the streets near main chowk of the apple town and clashed with police and paramilitary forces. The forces fired teargas shells to disperse them. No one was however hurt in the clashes, reports said.
In the neighbouring Bandipora district, youths took to streets in Barsoo and Khurhama areas and staged protests against the arrests of some youths.—Additional reporting by Mushtaq Ahmad in Baramulla