Baramulla: A complete shutdown was observed in Sopore, Baramulla and Bandipora towns of north Kashmir on Friday against “police atrocities” and arrest of youths.
In Baramulla town, scores of people under the banner of local traders’ federation (Bapar Mandal Baramulla) staged a protest demonstration against the “atrocities” and arrest of youths.
Shouting slogans in demand of releasing youth, the protesters marched through different markets of town before assembling at Main Chowk Baramulla.
The protesters dispersed after a telephonic address by chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Geelani.
In his address, Geelani appealed people to keep their protests entirely peaceful and urged them not to beat people who cast their vote in recently concluded Lok Sabha elections.
Geelani also urged the people to remain cautious against the elements who according to him are trying to create rift among them.
As per locals, at least 14 youths have been arrested by police. The people alleged that on Thursday night, police and paramilitary forces damaged dozens of vehicles and other property in several areas of the town.
Residents of Kakar Hamam, Ganie Hamam, Bagh-i-Islam and Azad Gunj, areas falling in old town, accused police of damaging several houses.
“Police carried raids in the house of one Gulam Mohi-ud-Dn Mir at Azad Gunj to arrest his son, but as he was not there, policemen stole cash and gold items from there,” the locals said. Similar raids were carried in other houses, they said.
However, in a statement, a police spokesman refuted the allegations as “baseless”.
“Some media persons quoting the relatives of some accused persons responsible for violence and assaults on some passengers’ vehicles and passengers that police has stolen valuables and cash from their homes in Baramulla. The accusations are aimed to hoodwink the public and to hide their misdeeds by using such tactics,” the spokesman added.
Meanwhile, the town also observed a complete strike as shops, business establishments and educational institutes remained closed while only skeletal transport plied on roads. The call for the shutdown was given by the Bapar Mandal.
General Secretary of the traders’ federation, Er Farooq Ahmad told Kashmir Reader that the strike was given against the arrest of youths and against the damage of public property by police in old town areas.
“We will not end our strike till the district administration compensates for damages to the property and till the arrested youth are released,” Farooq said.
In neighboring Sopore town, a complete strike was also observed against the arrest of youths before and after the May 7 Lok Sabha elections.
To preempt any protests and untoward incident, hundreds of policemen and paramilitary personnel were deployed in the town since early Friday.
A delegation of traders visited office of the Superintendent of Police and appealed him to release the youths who were detained last week.
Qutub Alam, a senior trader of the town, said the delegation met SP Sopore and appealed him to release the youths. “Police has declined our appeal, so traders have decided not to open the market till youths are not released,’ he said.
Meanwhile, reports of complete strike were also received from Bandipora town where shops and business establishments remained closed along with schools and other educational institutions against the arrest of youths.