Srinagar: At least eight boys, including a minor, were arrested during nocturnal raids in the volatile Hajin town of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district which has been on boil over the arrest of youth on charges of stone pelting.
A contingent of policemen led by Station House Officer (SHO) Hajin, Mohammad Ateeq Ullah swooped on Meer Mohalla, Parray Mohalla, Hajam Mohalla, and other adjoining localities of Hajin town and arrested at least eight youth, including two siblings and a minor on the charges of stone pelting, locals told Kashmir Reader Saturday. Among the arrested were two guests, and a youth, who is undergoing treatment for eye injuries.
The locals also alleged that the cops went berserk, abusing and beating men, women and children, besides damaging property.
“Around 2:30 am, over a dozen SOG personnel climbed the wall and barged into my house. They straight away went upstairs and dragged my minor son and his elder brother from the bed. They also thrashed me and my family when we resisted their move. Choicest incentives were hurled at us by the cops before they left,” Nazir Ahmad Mir, whose two sons Waseem Ahmad and Nasrullah were arrested, told Kashmir Reader.
Besides his two sons, the raiding team, he said, also arrested his nephew Khurshid Ahmad, who works as a daily wage labourer to feed his family. He said that his aged and ailing mother Mugli Begum developed palpitation and restlessness when the cops created ‘ruckus’ at his house during the raid.
“I have seven young daughters. They were terrified and terrorized. If police doesn’t behave well, it can have far reaching consequences. It can lead to a tragedy,” he said.
Mir said this morning he and his brother Bashir Ahmad visited the police station to meet the detained children. However, at the police station, he alleged, the cops thrashed them with bamboo sticks and gun butts.
“They warned us not to turn up at the police station again. We’re being harassed and humiliated for no reason,” he added.
Saleema Begum, whose sons Ishfaq and Mushtaq were arrested, said that police also arrested three guests Iqbal, Imtiyaz, and Arif, son of Bashir Ahmad from her house in the raid. She said her son Ishfaq, who had suffered a pellet injury in eye, last month, was scheduled to leave Amristar on Sunday for treatment.
“My sons are not involved in stone pelting. They are being implicated in a false case. Ishfaq’s poor health is giving me sleepless night. We sold our land to meet his treatment. And if he doesn’t make it to Amritsar on Monday, all our efforts will go in vain,” she said.
“My two sons work as carpet weavers to look after their aged parents and five sisters. They’re innocent,” she added.
Mohammad Ashraf, another local said that the police was adding fuel to the fire by arresting the youth and subjecting their parents to alleged inhumane treatment. He said that anger was brewing among the youth following night raids.
“The government should not test our patience. We’ll take to streets enmasse if the government doesn’t rein their cops,” he said.
Refuting the allegations of highhandedness, police said that all the youth arrested in the raids under the supervision of a senior officer, were stone pelters, who were involved in attacks on the forces during the last few days.
“We have identified the boys who resort to stone pelting. We have arrested some of them. The drive to arrest the stone pelters will continue,” Superintendent of Police (SP) Bandipora, Mohammad Shafi, told Kashmir Reader.
Police, he said, ensures that no innocent is arrested during the search of the stone pelters. He said that the stone pelters have vitiated the atmosphere in the town with their activities.
Meanwhile, a shutdown was observed in Hajin town to protest the arrest of the youth. The shutdown also affected public transport. In the afternoon, sporadic clashes broke out between angry youth and protesters. However, no one was injured in the brief clashes.