Excise officials attacked in Shopian village while on anti-cannabis drive

Excise officials attacked in Shopian village while on anti-cannabis drive
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SHOPIAN: Officials of the Excise and Taxation, Revenue, R&B and Irrigation departments were attacked by stones Thursday at a Shopian village in south Kashmir during a cannabis eradication drive.
Sub District Magistrate, Zainapora, Syed Ahmad told Kashmir Reader that as the vehicles carrying the officials reached Melhura village, a mob already present there attacked them with stones and axes, resulting in damage to several vehicles.
The denial of security despite notice to the police department surprised many officials who suspect the involvement of a “big hand” in the incident.
“We left the area after the mob attacked our vehicles. Despite notice to the police, they didn’t provide security to us,” he said adding that their joint team of different departments earlier conducted two drives in the area, under which cannabis on 500 kanals of land was destroyed.
Tehsildar Zainapora Fida Muhammed told Kashmir Reader that earlier in the day, on the officials’ arrival in Melhura village, they found the road leading to Koka Mohala blocked by miscreants.
“We cleared the blockage and were waiting for Excise officials. As soon they arrived, but a mob confronted them with railway track stones, resulting in damage of several vehicles,” he said while adding that a tractor driver hired by the Excise department was severely beaten by the miscreants, who are possibly cannabis cultivators.
He said that 25 government officials were present there when the group attacked them. He added that the Excise Taxation Officer for South Kashmir, Saleem Akber, was also present when the attack took place. The officers said they were surprised at how a mob of cultivators and traders managed to attack the officials.
A senior police official of the district, when contacted and asked why security was not provided to the team, said he was in a meeting.
Officials said Melhura area in Shopian has been infamous cultivation of cannabis.
An Excise Taxation officer told Kashmir Reader that the drive was important as the crop is in the ripening stage and people are about to harvest it. “We conducted several drives under police security, but this time there was no security and miscreants found it a good time to attack us,” the officer said.
Deputy Commissioner Shopian Owais Ahmad told Kashmir Reader that an inquiry committee has been set to file a report on the incident.
“I have set a committee to file a report on the issue and on why security was not provided to the officials,” he said.