Srinagar: Police on Saturday claimed that some elements were raising false alarm about braid chopping to disturb peace and harmony.
The idea, police claimed, was “to force women folk to get confined in their homes, so that radical religious agenda of these elements is realized”. As evidence, police cited the raising of Zakir Moosa slogans by these elements “to make their intentions public”. Police also claimed that the incidents were aimed at creating animosity between people and government forces, especially J&K Police.
Police arrested, 57 persons from different places across Kashmir valley. In different statements issued here on Saturday, police claimed to have arrested persons for charges like assault on government forces and civilians, rumour mongering and instigating protests. In one case, police arrested three persons for accusing civilians of ‘braid chopping’.
Eighteen persons from Kreeri area on charges of assaulting three Territorial Army troopers “with an intention to kill them”. Police said that looted cash, ATM cards and mobile phones were recovered from the accused.
Ten persons were arrested and two vehicles seized from Chowkibal area of Kupwara, police said, after investigations showed that “neither the lady whose braid was chopped off nor any of her family members had seen any Army personnel, either in the house where the incident took place or elsewhere.”
Fourteen others were arrested for “spreading rumours over braid chopping” in Srinagar. “They were instigating people for protests and stone pelting,” police said in a statement.
“Eight other persons were arrested from Batamaloo area in Shaheed Gunj sub-division while 06 others were held from Noorbagh area of Maharaj Gunj subdivision of Srinagar city in different raids by the police,” the statement added.
The arrests in Kreeri followed an incident on October 18, when Sheeri police station received information that “a violent unruly mob had caught hold of three Territorial Army men” and were “assaulting them mercilessly with an intention to kill them”. A police party rushed to the spot and “after strenuous efforts rescued the Army men in injured condition”.
An FIR (No 48 of 2017 under sections of 307, 148, 149 RPC) was registered in Police Station Sheeri, police said.
“During investigation it surfaced that the three Territorial Army men were on board a passenger vehicle to withdraw money from an ATM in Sheeri market and get the search lights repaired. They had boarded the passenger vehicle at Kitchama and, from the same spot, a notorious stone pelter also boarded the same passenger bus,” police said in a statement.
Identifying the person as Qaiser Bilal Bhat, son of Bilal Ahmad Bhat, resident of Zoogiyar, police said that he “hatched a conspiracy to get Army men killed by falsely accusing them as braid choppers”. Police accused him of raising “hue and cry near Sheeri Market, and got a violent mob assembled, who attacked the Army men”.
About the arrests in Srinagar, police said that “miscreants were spreading rumours on braid chopping and were causing panic among the people”.
They were taking advantage of braid chopping incidents to instigate general public for protest and stone pelting.”
Giving details of the Chowkibal incident, police said that on 17th October, Police Station Kralpora received an information that a braid chopping incident has occurred in village Redii of Chowkibal area, close to LoC.
“Later, it was learnt that an unruly mob of miscreants had caught hold of an Army man of 3rd JAKLI, accusing him of being a braid chopper,” police said. A police party rushed to the spot and “after strenuous efforts rescued the injured Army man”.
Investigation, police said, revealed that “some miscreants” had alleged that the ‘braid chopper’ was an Army man, who after committing the offence had “boarded the Army CASPER vehicle deployed on ROP duties”.
“The rumour soon spread like a wild fire and the miscreants caught hold of an Army man and started thrashing him with an intention to kill him. It was only because of timely intervention of police party that the said Army personnel was rescued,” police said.
Three persons were arrested in Awantipora after they allegedly thrashed a policeman.
Twelve people have been arrested in connection with Friday’s assault on a mentally challenged person at Mazbuq area of Sopore, police said.
Superintendent of police Sopore Harmeet Singh Mehta told reporters: “We have arrested 12 youth, who are identified on the videos being shared on social media, and an FIR vide No. 302/2017 under section 148, 149, 307 RPC has been registered against the accused persons at Police Station Sopore. More arrests will follow soon.”
A video showing the mentally challenged man being thrashed by people has gone viral on social networking sites.
—With inputs from Asim Shah