Police ‘raid’ sparks violent protests in Hajin

Srinagar: Violent protests broke out Monday in Hajin township of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district after police tried to arrest a youth on charges of stone pelting.
A police team led by an officer appeared near Hajin bridge around 10:15 am and tried to arrest Irshad Ahmad, son of Habibullah Wani, from his tea stall, on charges of participating and organizing stone pelting protests in the town, eyewitnesses said.
The cops allegedly thrashed Irshad and tried to drag him in their ‘Rakshak’ vehicle. However, his family, neighbours and local shopkeepers rushed to the spot and offered stiff resistance to foil the police move.
The shopkeepers also downed their shutters in what they termed as an act of highhandedness by police. The cops used batons and fired several teargas canisters to disperse the protesters. This led to clashes in the area affecting the movement of transport. The clashes continued for over an hour after which the cops retreated from the area without arresting the youth.
“This morning, I was at my tea stall, when a police team led by an officer came and thrashed me. The policemen ransacked my tea stall and tried to drag me inside their vehicle. However, my mother and sisters, along with the locals reached the spot and prevented the cops from doing so,” Irshad told Kashmir Reader over phone.
The cops, he said, accused him of participating and organizing stone pelting protests in the town. He said that the cops also misbehaved with his mother and sister while trying to arrest him.
“The cops beat me family with batons and lobbed teargas shells when they staged protests against the police. The cops used choicest incentives at the womenfolk,” Irshad said, adding, “Police is dancing on the tunes of the ruling National Conference leaders. Not a day passes when the cops don’t harass us.”
The police, Irshad alleged, have intensified the ‘harassment’ following several attacks by stone pelters on Higher Education Minister Mohammad Akbar Lone in the town.
“After failing to arrest the stone pelters, police targets innocent youth. I run a tea stall to feed my family. What have I to do with stone pelting?” he said.
However, police denied the allegations and said that no raid, arrests or protests took place in the town.
“We didn’t carry any raid or arrests today. The situation is totally peaceful,” Station House Officer (SHO) Hajin, Ateequllah, told Kashmir Reader.
Hajin town is often on boil ever since a teenager Farhat Ahmad Dar was shot dead by government forces in March this year during anti-India demonstrations.
Mohammad Akbar Lone, who represents Sonawari constituency in the state Assembly, has off and on come under attack of the stone pelters in the town, even as he has been shifting the blame on his political opponents. Only two days ago, Lone’s cavalcade was attacked when he was in the town to chair workers meeting.