Arrests of youth trigger IHK protests


Protests erupted at several places in Indian-held Kashmir against the arrests of youth during past some days for their alleged role in stone-pelting.
Tension gripped Pulwama town when scores of youth protested and pelted stones on vehicles and on men in uniform, bringing normal life to a halt throughout the day, reports said.
The protesters were demanding the release of some youth who were reportedly arrested by the police in nocturnal raids. Raising pro-freedom slogans, the protestors pelted stones on vehicles.
After the protests broke out, traffic went off the roads and shops closed. However after some hours the traffic resumed but most shops remained shut throughout the day.
Reports said that angry people complained that police have arrested around half a dozen youth from the town. “The youths are innocent and should be released immediately,” protesters demanded. Reports said that residents of the Arigam Pulwama Saturday morning blocked Shopian-Srinagar road. They were demanding action against the security persons who according to them broke the window panes of several houses Friday evening. “The security forces broke the window panes without any provocation. We now demand that action should be taken against them,” the residents said.
A senior police official in Pulwama denied any stone pelting by the people and breaking of window panes by the security personnel. “We have arrested only two youth from the town who were involved in stone pelting. However there was no stone pelting or protest today morning in the town,” he said. “The people had stopped the vehicular movement only for one hour and after that situation was normal again,” he said. “The Arigam people had some other issue which has been sorted out. However security forces had not broken any window panes there,” he added.
Arrest of a local youth by police sparked protests in Shopian town this afternoon with agitated protesters demanding release of the youth. All business establishments were shut as protests erupted in the area. According to locals, police arrested a local youth Muhammad Qasim Mengnoo S/O Late Abdul Qayoom Mengnoo of Bonabazar Shopian from his shop at Batpora Shopian.
As the news about his arrest spread, various youth assembled at Main Chowk Shopian and held protest demonstrations against the arrest. “Shopkeepers downed their shutters and within minutes a civil curfew like situation was observed in the whole town,” eye witnesses said. Youth marched through the streets peacefully shouting anti-police and anti-government slogans. Normal life was badly hit in Kupwara town Saturday due to shutdown against the detention of youth. As soon as shops opened in the town this morning, youth started pelting stones on shops, forcing a shutdown. They were demanding release of four youths detained by police Friday evening.
They later fought pitched battles with CRPF and police near old chowk, bus stand and by-pass Kupwara. Schools children were also caught in the clashes near by-pass and panicked parents from nearby villages of Regipora and Dudwan rushed to the town to seek their whereabouts. Police fired tear gas shells to disperse the protesters and the pitched battles continued till evening. At least six youth and two cops were injured in the clashes. Window panes of some vehicles were also damaged in clashes.
Additional contingents of police and CRPF were deployed in the town to bring the situation under control. The cops sealed all interior roads leading to by-pass and main chowk Kupwara.