ANANTNAG: After witnessing a day of normal life on Saturday, Anantnag erupted again over the continuous detention and harassment of youth by the police on charges of stone pelting and taking part in protests during the past six days.
The township had first erupted last Sunday over the murder of a truck driver, Zahid Rasool Bhat, who has been attacked with a petrol bomb by a Hindu mob in Udhampur district of Jammu on October 9.
Hundreds of protesters had clashed with government forces for three consecutive days after being denied the avenue to hold peaceful protests.
The authorities later enforced curfew like restrictions in the town to keep the situation under control. And after a normal day on Saturday, scores of protesters, many of them women, from Mattan Chowk, Reshi bazar ,Sarnal and Kadipora assembled the near busy Mattan Chowk and demonstrated against the government.
The protesters held a sit-in in the market place. Some protesters, witnesses said, used public address systems of Masjids to ask people to join the protests besides shouting azadi slogans.
The protesters said that police have arrested several youth, including minors, and continues to keep them under detention.
Police men, the protesters said, are also conducting raids on the houses of many other youth and harassing their families.
“The policemen raided my residence and told me that a neighboring youth was hiding at my home. While searching my home they did not find anyone there and finally asked my son who was preparing for exams to accompany them. When I objected they told me that he will be set free after verification. But he continues to be under detention despite the fact that he never came out of his house during the days town was on boil. His exams are in progress. His career will be ruined if he remains behind the bars,” a protester told media men.
The protests later spread to the main business center, Lal Chowk, where scores of youth took to streets and clashed with police. They threw stones at the police and broke glass panes of many vehicles in the area. The forces resorted to teargas shelling to drive away the youth.Deputy inspector general of police (south Kashmir range) Nitish Kumar said the police have arrested more than two dozen youths “involved in stone throwing” from different areas of the district, but added that they will “be counseled before their release”.
“During counseling we will see who is a hardcore stone pelter and who is the first timer lured by some elements. First timers will be released and the hardliners will be taken to task,” Kumar told Kashmir Reader.
He said the police will not spoil the careers of the “misguided youth”.
“But we won’t also spare those hardcore stone throwers who want to disrupt peace,” the DIG said.