Srinagar: Policemen adopted the guise of civilian protesters outside the Jamia Masjid on Friday to arrest four youths during stone-pelting and clashes that began immediately after the culmination of Friday congregation prayers.
The arrests took place when scores of youths, immediately after the congregational prayers concluded, assembled in the compound of Jamia Masjid and started raising pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.
Carrying flags, the youths tried to take out a protest demonstration but were intercepted by a posse of police already deployed at the eastern gate of the mosque. Soon, the angry youths started hurling stones at the police, triggering clashes in the area.
What caught the attention of many was some masked men catching hold of protesters and handing them over to the men in uniform.
“They were dressed like the protesters, and appeared to be residents of downtown Srinagar in their accent, mannerisms, which were the same as of the protesters,” a man who had offered prayers in Jamia and saw the stone-pelting clashes outside told Kashmir Reader.
Other eyewitnesses said that the masked men raised slogans in favour of freedom and also threw stones at the men in uniform. “They led the protesters closer to the police,” they said.
A photojournalist who covered the entire scene said that as the protesters came close to police, “The men in uniform all of a sudden started chasing them and the masked policemen who were in civvies suddenly turned upon the protesters, brandishing pistols, grabbing those nearest to them and wrestling them aground.”
The men in uniform took into custody the protesters that were caught by the masked policemen, while the rest of the protesters quickly dispersed.
“There were at least four of them who had put on caps and masks,” another photojournalist said of the policemen in disguise. He said that only two of them went about catching hold of the protesting youths.
The SP North City confirmed that policemen in civvies had been sent to Nowhatta to arrest stone-pelters. “Yes, we have arrested four stone-pelters during the clashes. They were caught by policemen in civilian clothes,” he told Kashmir Reader.
A police statement issued later said that, at about 2.00 pm,after the culmination of Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid Nowhatta,a group of miscreants started pelting stones on the deployments at the main gate of Jamia Masjid
Various Police parties deputed in the area apprehended four lead miscreants who were fomenting trouble there.
Also a toy pistol was recovered from one of the miscreants apprehended there.
In this connection case FIR No 47 of 2018 P/S Nowhatta has been registered under relevant sections and investigation has been taken up.
Meanwhile, pictures of the incident went viral on social media across Kashmir.