Srinagar: A major crackdown against alleged stone pleters in the volatile Hajin town of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district has forced scores of youth to abandon their homes.
Local residents said dozens of youth, most of them in their teens, have fled from their homes to evade arrest by the police during the ongoing crackdown against the youth who had allegedly thrashed some policemen and later set ablaze the car of their officer during a secret operation in Syed Mohalla of the town on April 5.
The nocturnal raids, daylong identification parades near the Hajin police station and the movement of cops in civvies to arrest the stone pelters has instilled fear among the youth. Most of the youth have taken refuge with their friends and relatives in the neighbouring districts to escape the crackdown that saw the arrest of nearly a dozen youth and several activists of pro-freedom groups in the last few days.
“Scores of youth hailing from Shah Gund, Syed Mohalla, Mir Mohalla, Parray Mohalla, Banger Mohalla, Tunda Mohalla, Ghat Mohalla, Hajam Mohalla, Danger Mohalla and other localities have deserted their houses and have taken refuge with their friends and relatives,” Ejaz Ahmad, a local resident, told Kashmir Reader.
He said police , have put up barricades along the Bandipora-Sopore and Bandipora-Sopore highways near Asham, Hajin police station and Saderkoot Bala, where youth are subjected to frisking and identity checks.
“Any youth found hailing from Hajin is whisked to the police station. The youth are reeling under fear. Many who’re still in their homes don’t dare to venture out fearing arrests,” Ejaz added.
65-year-old Abdul Kareem Lone, a resident of Meer Mohalla, told Kashmir Reader that the cops have “terrorized the locals” by conducting night raids and subjecting the families of alleged stone pelters to harassment and humiliation.
“The cops conduct nocturnal raids and arrest youth irrespective of their involvement in stone pelting. We can’t sleep due to constant fear of raids. Women folk feel insecure in the prevailing atmosphere,” Lone added.
Superintendent of Police (SP) Bandipora had told Kashmir Reader on Saturday last that the stone pelters have vitiated the atmosphere in the town with their activities.
“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,” he had said.