Police say 16 arrested boys are ‘wanted stone pelters’ identified from pictures, videos; scores go into hiding after raids on their homes
Srinagar: About 20 youths have been arrested on charges of stone throwing by the police in the past two days during a massive search-and-arrest operation in parts of old Srinagar.
Residents of Nowhatta and surrounding areas, the hub of pro-freedom protests, said police raided homes of those who had participated in protest demonstrations in the past one month.
“During raids they harassed the families of the youth, many of whom have gone into hiding,” said Altaf Ahmad, a resident of Gojwara.
Khanyar sub-divisional police officer Aijaz Ahmad said 16 people have been arrested on charges of stone throwing.
“They are all wanted stone pelters. We have recently identified them from pictures and videos before making their arrests. We have all the proofs of their crime,” Ahmad said.
Another senior official said more arrests would be made in the coming days.
The move has come in the backdrop of the ruling People Democratic Party’s (PDP) pre-election campaign promise that cases against thousands of youth booked for stone throwing would be withdrawn if they vote for the party and if it forms the government.
The PDP had then claimed that there were about 5,000 FIRs (First Information Reports) against stone throwers and protesters while describing them as the “unfortunate victims of the Omar Abdullah government”.
Its partner in the coalition government, BJP, had accused the police of running an extortion racket in the name of fighting stone throwers, saying that in return for the release of boys accused of stone throwing, the police take huge amounts of money from their parents.
PDP general secretary Rafi Mir said that if police has picked up boys, they should “deal with them compassionately”.
“We have promised with the people that we would deal with cases of such nature delicately. PDP will take up the issue with the government,” he said.
Forces cordon off Shopian village, ‘set bushes on fire’
Soldiers of 44 Rashtriya Rifles and Special Operations Group personnel cordon off Sariballa village in Shopian district, apparently after receiving information about the presence of militants in nearby forest. The local residents said the forces set bushes on fire to force militants to come out of hiding. —GNS
Army stopped us from offering night prayers: Khadniyar residents
The army did not allow residents of Khadniyar village in Baramulla to offer the night prayers at Masjid Qadeem, a local mosque.
Local residents told Kashmir Reader that the soldiers, who apparently had to conduct a search operation, made them stand outside their homes for hours but did not allow them to offer the prayers.
“It is for the first time since 2000 that the army stopped us from praying in this mosque,” said Abdul Rashid Hajam (name changed on request), a local resident.
A senior police officer said that they had no information about the incident as no resident reported it to the police.
In the month of Ramazan, army and police have intensified search operation in north Kashmir. On July 3, both army and police had conducted door-to-door search operations in Chijhama in Rafiabad and Rawatpora and Delina in Baramulla.