Srinagar: Hours after Internet services were partially restored in Kashmir Valley on late Tuesday afternoon after remaining suspended for two days, a series of amateur short videos went viral on social media showing CRPF jawans being heckled, hit and kicked by a mob in Srinagar.
However, the jawans who appear to be returning from a polling station somewhere in Budgam district of the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency which went to the by-poll amid widespread protests and violence on Sunday, show remarkable restraint.
In one video, a youth in the crowd whacks one of the jawans in the head whereas another can be heard saying “Haya layus ma’ (Hey, don’t beat him). That, however, does not stop another attacker from flipping off the jawan’s helmet. As some of the young men chant ‘Go India, Go Back’ while walking with the jawans, others capture the assault on their mobile phone cameras. The jawans stay calm and do not react.
One of the jawans who is attacked yet can be seen walking calmly with an INSAS rifle in his hand is reported to have told his seniors that his and his colleagues’ prime concern at that time was to keep the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) they were carrying with them after a polling station was attacked in Budgam safe.
The police sources said that investigations have been taken up after a case on the assault on CRPF jawans was registered at a local police station. The police are trying to identify the youth who attacked the security personnel, the sources said.
Eight protesters were killed and dozens wounded in security forces’ firings and other actions across Srinagar on Sunday when a number of polling stations and booths were attacked by irate mobs across the constituency. The officials had said that over 100 security personnel were also injured in these attacks and pitched street battles fought mainly in Budgam district on that day.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Wednesday said that elaborate arrangements have been made for the re-polling being held at 38 polling stations in Srinagar on Thursday which included heavy deployment of security forces in the areas that saw worst incidents of violence on Sunday.
It, however, is silent on the reports that about twenty EVMs were damaged or snatched from the polling station on Sunday when a meagre 7.14 per cent of over 1.2 million registered voters turned up to use their democratic right.
While the ECI has ordered re-polling at 38 police stations in Srinagar, it decided to defer the by-poll to Anantnag seat in South Kashmir which was to be held Wednesday till May 25, raising a few eyebrows.
The opposition parties have questioned the logic behind holding re-poll in Srinagar after the EC postponed the by-poll in Anantnag in view of the violence witnessed in Srinagar.
National Conference (NC) on Wednesday said that it has written to the Chief Electoral Officer of Jammu and Kashmir (CEO) and also the ECI and put on record serious apprehensions and concerns about the electoral process ahead of a re-poll and sought certain safeguards and steps to uphold the integrity of the democratic process.
“The party sought specific safeguards and measures from the CEO in light of the unforeseen and unprecedented circumstances and the questionable role of the State government and the administration during election on April 9,” the party said in a statement in Srinagar.
The separatists have asked people to boycott the by-poll the way they did on Sunday and also called for a protest shutdown in the areas where re-polling is being held. Ironically, seven independent candidates in the fray have also asked the voters to stay away from the polling on the plea that it would “add to the crisis”. Meanwhile, the police has detained scores of people, mainly youth, from different parts of Budgam ahead of the by-polling.
The authorities have decided to imposed strict security restrictions across Budgam district on Thursday except in those areas where re-polling is being held under Section 144 CrpC.