Sopore protests arrest of 8 men dubbed Lashkar recruits by cops

Baramulla: A protest demonstration was held Monday in Sopore against the police, with the protesters alleging that the eight men arrested on charges of being Lashkar-e-Toiba militants last week were booked only because they had refused to work as army informers.
A police handout said Sunday that the arrested men had, in conspiracy with one Umar Khatab of Pakistan administered Kashmir, planned to carry out “various militant actions” in Sopore after being “indoctrinated with jihadi ideology”.
The FIR filed by the police in this case mentions the possession of illegal arms as the main charge against the arrested persons—brothers Mohammad Qasim Gujar, Mohammad Iqbal and Hakim Din; Lateef Ahmad Gujar and Zubair Ahmad Gujar, all residents of Gujarpatti Zaloora; Rayees Ahmad Bhat and Sajjad Ahmad Bhat, Shabir Ahmad Kumar, all residents of Harwan, Sopore.
While Lateef and Hakim Din are government employees, the rest are involved in various businesses, their family members told Kashmir Reader.
Contrary to the police claims, the parents and relatives of these men have a different story to tell.
Hanifa Begam, mother of the three brothers, said, “On October 20, the army told us to bring them (the five men from Gujarpatti) for questioning at the camp of 30 Rashtriya Rifles. On October 22, they were shifted to the Sopore district police lines.”
“From Sopore, they were sent to the Cargo (a special counterinsurgency cell of Kashmir police) in Srinagar,” she added.
Hanifa said all these days the police assured them that the five men would be released.
“How can they brand them as Lashkar militants? Our children have no links with militancy. The reality is that the police and army have failed to arrest militants and were now forcing locals to become informers. And those who decline are victimised,” Hanifa said.
Mohammad Sidiq, a protester from Zaloora, said the police and the army were forcing people of the upper reaches in Sopore to work for them as informers.
“These men were in the custody of the police for several days. The police claim that they recovered arms from them is totally baseless,” he said.
The protesters staged a sit-in outside Bomai police station and deputy commissioner’s office.
Mohammad Younas, chairman Gujjar Bakarwal Advisory Board, said a delegation of people from Zaloora and Harwan met Baramulla’s Deputy Inspector General of Police Ghulam Hassan Bhat who asked them to meet the Sopore Superintendent of Police.
“The SP assured us all of them would be released within two to three days,” Younas said.
However, Kashmir Reader has learnt the arrested persons would be sent to the district jail.
In fact, SP Sopore Abdul Qayoom was quoted by news agency GNS as saying that the arrested men had been detained earlier also but released in the “hope that they will refrain from militant activities”.
“They were not booked at that time. But they have again resorted to militant activities and there was no other way than to arrest them,” Qayoom added.