SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir police on Monday arrested more than thirty people including some lower-rung activists of Hurriyat Conference and other separatist outfits after together with the Army and CRPF launching a massive search operation in the old town of Baramulla, 55-km northwest of Srinagar.
Police sources said that those arrested by it included several local youth allegedly involved in stone-pelting incidents and other “desirable” activities during the ongoing unrest in Kashmir Valley. The unrest triggered by the killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahedin commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani entered its 101th day on Monday.
“They were evading arrest and, therefore, a cordon-and-search operation had to be conducted to get them,” said the sources. However, the residents complained that the police also took with them close relatives like brothers and fathers of some of those who figured in the list of “wanted” people after they police could not find them during the search operation. A large number of people later gathered outside the Baramulla police station to seek release of the “innocent” people, witnesses said.
The officials and residents said that hundreds of troops from the Army and jawans of Jammu and Kashmir police including those of its counterinsurgency Special Operations Group (SOG) and the CRPF laid siege to the border town situated on the banks of River Jhelum at about 3 am. “Announcements were made through mike-fitted Army and police vehicles asking people not to venture out. With the first light, the security forces began house-to-house searches which ended at about 2.30 pm,” said a local reporter over the phone. The cordon-and-search operation restricted the old Baramulla town’s about 100,000 residents to their homes, he added.
An earlier report had said that the operation was launched on learning about the presence of militants in the town. At the weekend, the security forces conducted similar operations in Baramulla’s Azad Gunj and Kanli Bagh areas but no arrests were made.
Meanwhile masked youth torched two passenger vehicles in Srinagar’s Parimpora area on Monday morning. Witnesses said that the youth stopped the vehicles coming towards Srinagar at the Fruit Mandi crossing along the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Road at about 7.45 am and after thrashing their drivers and asking the passengers to get off torched them.
This apparently was to punish the drivers for violating the separatists’ protest calendar which allows normal business only between 5 pm and 7 am. The police rushed to the spout but the attackers had already fled the scene, police sources said. A statement issued by the police here in the evening said that six persons involved in the crime have been identified and manhunt launched for them.
Earlier this month two auto-rickshaws and two private cars were also set on fire and dozens of other vehicles damaged by groups of youth in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley.
A report from southern Anantnag said that suspected militants snatched five rifles from the security guards at a Doordarshan low-power transmitter station in the district’s Dalvash village late Sunday night. The snatched weapons include 3 SLRs, one INSAS and one Carbine. Such incidents have increased mainly in south Kashmir districts over the past couple of months....