Shutdown, protests in Pulwama against slapping of PSA on youth

Shabir Ahmad
Anantnag: Amidst a complete shutdown, protests broke out Monday in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district against slapping of Public Safety Act (PSA) on a youth.
Waseem Ahmad Sofi, of Danerpora was arrested last week on charges of stone pelting. On Sunday, Sofi was booked under the PSA and shifted to Kathua Jail.
Reports said a spontaneous shutdown was observed in the town on Monday when the news about the slapping of PSA on Sofi spread. All the shops and business establishments remained closed in the town while traffic was off the roads to protest the arrest of the youth.
As the day progressed, scores of youth took to streets and staged anti-India protests. The protesters, including the family members of the detained youth, rejected the charges leveled against him.
The family members of the youth carrying kerosene cans threatened self immolation if the PSA was not revoked. Some of the family members even tried to set themselves on fire after sprinkling kerosene on their bodies. However, the locals foiled their attempt, reports said.
Later, top police officials reached the spot and tried to pacify the protestors. The officers told the protesters to approach the court to get the PSA of the boy revoked.
A police official told a local news gathering agency that Sofi was a notorious stone-pelters and not the first time offender. The official also denied reports that the family members of Sofi had attempted self immolation.
Meanwhile, six more youth were arrested by police during the nocturnal raids from Parigam, Pulwama.  Reports said police raided the houses of at least six youth and arrested them on charges of stone pelting on poll day last week. The arrest of youth triggered protests in the area.
Meanwhile, a police spokesman in a statement here said that 13 alleged stone pelters were released on the instructions of Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Abdul Gani Mir.
“The development in this regard came after a team of experts held counselling session with the detained youth in Pulwama.  On the basis of these sessions, police authorities assured to take a considerate and lenient view with regard to first time offenders,” the statement said.
“The released persons were not booked in any case to give them an opportunity to introspect and desist to become tools of the anti social elements,” the spokesman added.