In a major operation to quell the ongoing protests over the civilian killings, police have arrested more than 1000 persons including teenagers in the Valley during past three weeks and booked at least 15 of them under the stringent Public Safety Act.Though the police remained tight-lipped over the issue, sources said on Government directions, it has started the process to book majority of the arrested youth and teenagers under the PSA which is primarily meant to deal with ‘waging war against State.’Pertinently, the arrest spree started since the Sopur Chalo on June 27 with police detaining hundreds of people while marching towards the Apple Town at Parimpora. Incidentally among other sections, they have been booked under various sections including attempt to murder and rioting. Reports said 500 youth and teenagers have been arrested from Srinagar city alone.“In past three weeks, police have made random arrests across the city just to frighten the people. Some youth have been released on bail but most of them are still under arrest,” the inhabitants of Nowhatta said.They said in most of the cases, the police have been asking the parents to produce their children in the respective Police Stations. “In this way scores of youth have been arrested. They are innocent and have never indulged in stone pelting,” argued the parents of some arrested youth.“We have learnt that two youth who were arrested from Gojwara in Old City here have been booked under PSA and shifted to Hira Nagar and Udhampur. We don’t know their identity and are worried about our wards,” they added.SSP Srinagar, Aashiq Bukhari refused to comment over the issue.Similarly, in south Kashmir’s Islamabad district, over 40 youth including minors have been arrested on charges of indulging in stone pelting over the killings of three persons- Shujat-ul-Islam, Ishtiyaq Ahmad Khanday and Imtiyaz Ahmad- in cold-blood allegedly by police.Reports said out of these 40, five youth have been booked for attempt to murder while two are facing detention under PSA. The locals said Atif Hassan son of Ghulam Hassan of Islamabad booked under PSA on charges of “stone pelting” has been shifted to Kot Balwal jail.“Police is arresting the youth in Islamabad on frivolous charges. Many youth have been arrested on charges of inciting violence by making anti-police and anti-govt comments. This is just to harass the youth and break the peaceful protests against the killings,” said a youth of Islamabad town wishing anonymity.Advocate Mir Shafaqat Hussain accused the Government of misusing the PSA. “About 500-600 persons including minors have been arrested during past over three weeks in the Valley. At least 15 persons have been booked under PSA. Ironically, they have been booked under serious offences including attempt to murder. The members of High Court Bar Association have helped 100 youth to get bail. We will be providing free legal aid to youth and challenge their detention,” he said.A senior police officer wishing anonymity said police was preparing the grounds of detention of the arrested youth and teenagers under various acts including the PSA. “We have been given stringent directions to book the stone pelters. We have gathered evidences including photographs and video clips against them. The allegations of framing them is baseless,” he said.Pertinently, 32 and 15 youth have been booked under various offences ranging from stone pelting to damaging public property in north Kashmir Varmul and Sopur towns respectively. Similarly, at least 10 persons have been arrested in Pulwama and Kulgam districts.Prominent human rights activist, Gautam Navlakha, said the Government of India had no option but to adopt realistic approach over the situation in Kashmir in its historical perspective.“Last year, the GOC northern command had termed the protests in Kashmir as agitational terrorism. The troopers operating in the Valley having taken cue from it and are dealing with unarmed protesters as terrorists by slapping PSA on them. New Delhi needs to see the deal with the situation in Kashmir by punishing the troopers involved in killings rather than booking those who protest against it,” Navlakha said.
PRO-FREEDOM CAMP UNDER SIEGE:
Authorities have booked many pro-freedom leaders including chairman of Syed Ali Shah Geelani under the PSA to thwart the ongoing protests over the killings.Others booked under PSA include Hurriyat (M) leader Zafar Akbar Bhat, Mirwaiz south Kashmir, Qazi Yasir, Tehreek Hurriyat general secretary, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, senior Hurriyat (G) leaders, Gen Moosa, Aiyaz Akbar, Bilal Siddiqui, president of High Court Bar Association, Mian Abdul Qayoom, Bar general secretary, GN Shaheen. They have been shifted to various jails in Jammu.Senior Hurriyat leader, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, has been lodged in sub-jail Varmul.Moreover half a dozen senior activists of Hurriyat (M) including Muzaffar Ahmad Yatoo have been booked under PSA and shifted to various jails in Jammu.Senior leader of Peoples League, Muhammad Maqbool Sofi, who was arrested during the Sopur Chalo on June 27, is lodged in Parimpora Police Station.Besides the authorities have been frequently putting the chairman Hurriyat (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and other leaders including Advocate Shahid-ul-Islam and Agha Syed Al Mousvi Al Safvi under house arrest.