Police on arrest spree in old Srinagar
50 youth held, preventive detention must to ensure peace: SP North
Ahead of the last Friday of Ramadhan, Jumat-ul-Vida, to be observed as Youm-e-Kashmir and Youm-e-Qudus, police have launched a massive crackdown on youth across Srinagar by detaining at least 50 of them in a bid to curb anti-Israel protests.
Kashmir erupted with protests after Israel aggression against the people of Gaza began in the first week of July leaving at least 500 people dead and over 3000 injured including children. The volatile old city areas witnessed large scale protests forcing police to use tear gas shells and pepper gas to quell the angry youth.
Police sources said the old city areas like Rajouri Kadal, Nowhatta, Saraf Kadal and Gojwara are most volatile as youth assemble in these localities in a good number and resort to heavy stone pelting. “At times, there is a crowd of 50 youth and sometimes it rises to 100. Last time, over a 100 youth attacked police station Nowhatta with bricks and stones creating a very tough situation for the police and paramilitary forces,” they said.
“Police and paramilitary forces had to resort to severe aerial firing on that day to disperse the protestors.”
They further said that there are strict directions to them from the top to take all possible steps to ensure that stone pelting is curbed. “We take photographs of the clashes between youth and forces.” Police sources said that after assessing the videos and photographs of the stone pelting, it becomes easy for the officials to identify the “trouble mongers.” “We have caught hold of many youth by identifying their clothes, shoes, and marks on the skin,” a source revealed.
Interestingly, in old city, a group of youth had surrounded a SPO who was later beaten to pulp. “Yes, he was travelling on a motor cycle and got stuck among the stone pelters,” police sources said.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, SP North (City) Tahir Saleem said that they have detained around 50 youth since anti-Israel protests started in old city. “No youth has been booked under Public Safety Act (PSA),” he said.
On why the police was on an arrest spree, he said those who foment trouble have to be taken into “preventive custody.” This is must to maintain peace,” he said.
He said Close Circuit Television (CCTVs) camera have been of a great help for the police. “CCTV footage has been very much helpful. It becomes easy for us to identify the youth who indulge in stone pelting. In some footage, we could identify some youth in the first shot, though we collect other corroborating evidences before detaining the youth,” the SP said. He, however, said the detention process would continue as long as the clashes take place.
A police official posted in old city said police is counseling the detained youth. “Though some are rigid, many vow that they won’t throw stones again,” he said. “In many cases, we have approached the parents of stone throwers to ensure that they could also play their role to mend ways of their wards.”
Hurriyat Conference (G) has urged the people to stage peaceful protests against Israeli aggression in Gaza on the last Friday of Ramadhan. Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is also likely to lead an anti-Israeli protest march on Jumat-ul-Vida after the Friday congregational prayers at the historic Jamia Masjid. Mirwaiz has already announced that the day would be also observed as Youm-e-Kashmir.