SRINAGAR: Amid shutdown against killings of militants and civilians, scores of youth in a unique kind of protest played hide and seek with the police in Brein area of Srinagar on Sunday.
Three militants were killed in a gunfight in Chattabal and a civilian was killed in Noorbagh area in Srinagar on Saturday. In another gunfight, five militants and six civilians were killed in south Kashmir’s Shopian on Sunday.
According to witnesses, youth early in the morning appeared near main market Brein and started approaching towards the CRPF camp and police personnel stationed at Boulevard road.
Many women, sensing the anger and mood of the boys, requested the boys not to clash with the police because of a couple of marriage functions in the area.
“After a brief conversation, the youth who had covered their faces, assured the women that they will not pelt stones at the police. Instead, they blocked the roads and sat on the shop fronts to ensure maximum restrictions,” witnesses said.
When the police got to know about the road blocks and saw some occasional private vehicles returning back from the area, they quickly came to the spot and the youth rushed to the lanes and by-lanes for safety without retaliating.
Police cleared the road of the obstacles and chased the boys through the lanes and marched the road for some time.
“When the police left the scene, youth slowly started assembling back and blocked the road again prompting the police to come back,” a shopkeeper said.
According to the witnesses, this happened for a couple of times till late afternoon when finally rain played the ‘spoil sport’.
When this reporter talked to the protesters, they confirmed this by saying that they ‘respected the request from a mother’.
“The mother requested us and we obliged. This is our place and we live here together,” said a group of masked protesters.
“We are not aliens, we share the same blood, Allah has given us mind to think,” they added.
The protesters, who are also very active on social media, castigated the stone pelting incident on a school bus in which some kids suffered injuries in south Kashmir’s Shopian last week. The protesters said that they are ‘sad’ because of this incident; some people are ‘demonizing’ them.
“They are doing the character assassination of the stone-throwers because of this isolated incident. We do not pelt stones on school going kids,” they said.
“People should stop painting everyone with the same brush. We (stone throwers) have offered our blood to the cause of freedom. The incident either is a work of agencies to defame us or maybe some teenage kids did it childishly ignoring the consequences,” said the group leader while others nodded in affirmation.
Meanwhile, clashes erupted between youth and government forces in main market and Jamia masjid area.
The protesters raised pro-freedom slogans and pelted stones at police and CRPF personnel who responded with firing dozens of teargas shells and pellets.
Locals alleged that the forces pelted stones on residential houses damaging window panes of dozens of houses. However, no injuries were reported while clashes continued till late evening.