The Jammu and Kashmir police has arrested more than 4,000 persons including dozens of minors in an attempt to end the ongoing unrest on the streets. The police came down heavily on the stone-pelters after Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti ordered the mass arrests. A senior police officer told The Sunday Guardian that apart from chronic troublemakers who incite violence and were responsible for damaging public property, they also arrested Hurriyat Conference activists, many of whom belong to the hardline Syed Ali Shah Geelani faction. The officer added that “Most of the arrests have been made after proper verification by different intelligence agencies with firm reports of their involvement in mob violence.”
The J&K police and Central intelligence agencies have installed scores of hidden cameras for recording incidents of stone pelting and violence and special teams have been deployed to scan the video footages to identify the troublemakers.
The Special Operations Group of the J&K police, with the help of the Army and the CRPF, has arrested 1,800 protesters from Pulwama and Shopian districts alone. South Kashmir is witnessing the maximum violence during these protests. “We have instructions to normalise the streets, so we have arrested several people and will continue to do so until we achieve our goal,” a senior police officer based in South Kashmir told this newspaper. He said that the CID and intelligence agencies have given them accurate information about the real troublemakers and dismissed the claims of the people of south Kashmir that innocent boys were being framed and slapped with criminal charges.
An official spokesman said that in the past few days they have slapped the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) on 167 people and that at least 300 more cases were being processed for action. Many Jamat-i-Islami leaders and activists have also been arrested, with the security agencies saying that they have enough evidence against them of fanning unrest and funding public rallies in south Kashmir. The police also raided the main headquarters of the Jamat-i-Islami at Batamaloo and arrested its spokesman, Zahid Ali. A National Investigation Agency (NIA) team earlier investigated the financial links that many separatists have with the current unrest and questioned two senior Hurriyat (Geelani) leaders in this connection. The NIA is also planning to interrogate Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son, Nayeem Geelani for alleged money laundering. The Centre has said that Pakistan is pumping in huge funds into the valley by to foment trouble.
Meanwhile, the J&K high court has directed the director general of the J&K police to ensure that minors are not lodged in police stations and are transferred to juvenile homes under the Juvenile Justice Act. The high court initiated the move after media reports that the police arrested scores of minors including an eight-year-old-boy, Basit Manzoor from south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. The court ordered that the police should make efforts to return the arrested children to their parents at the earliest.