ANANTNAG: Amid a shutdown in most commercial areas of this township, clashes erupted between government forces and protestors on Saturday against the arrest of some youths and ‘excesses by government forces’ on Friday. At least four youths were arrested by the police during clashes that rocked the old town after congregational prayers on Friday against the ban on beef sought to be enforced by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
Two persons, including the cameraman of a national news channel had sustained injuries during the clashes. Locals alleged that the forces, including police and CRPF men, went berserk in Reshi Bazar area, smashing glass panes of windows in homes and vehicles. On Saturday, a complete shutdown was observed in entire old town including business hub Lal Chowk, Chedni Chowk, Malak Nag, Reshi Bazar, Mattan Chowk and Sherbag with shops, business establishments and private offices remaining shut.
However, the general bus stand and uptown KP road areas witnessed normal business. Groups of youths took to the streets in Lal Chowk and Reshi Bazaar and resorted to heavy stone pelting at the police and CRPF men, who were deployed in strength in the area. The government forces, in return, used tears gas canisters to disperse the protestors. But the protestors, witnesses said, refused to relent and continued to fight pitched battles with government forces throughout the day. The clashes later spread to other localities of the old town. However, no reports of injuries were received.
Locals alleged that all the arrested boys were innocent and were caught by police after failing to chase the stone-throwing youth: “The policemen arrested all those who came their way and are now dubbing them as stone-pelters,” locals told Kashmir Reader.