In the Murran and Kangan areas of the Kashmir valley, police have started a massive crackdown on youth, arresting around 50 in nocturnal raids on April 30 and May 1. Since the Pulwama and Shopian districts hit polls on May 3, police have intensified actions against individuals suspected of participating in street protests.
Senior pro-independence leader who heads the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, Ashraf Sehrai, has termed the raids as “the most undemocratic and dictatorial operation” carried out by the government forces to create a sense of insecurity among the youth in the region.
“These measures are against ethics of democracy. The rights of the people are muzzled and violated day in and day out in Kashmir region. New Delhi is negating their own claims by continuously ignoring the ground reality by banning political organizations, jailing leaders, activists, and restricting peaceful political dissent. Such actions don’t qualify as democracy,” Ashraf said in a statement.
Residents of Newa, Gudoora and Parigam villages in the Pulwama district confirmed that 19 civilians were picked up after the forces cordoned off the entire area.
While admitting that some minors were also arrested, police officials claimed that security action was taken to prevent a law and order situation in the southern part of Kashmir, which has witnessed massive militancy-related operations in the past five years.
Police said that the detained civilians have a history of indulging in stone pelting, and that they were repeatedly asked to present themselves in their respective police stations on the polling day. “They will be released after election ends in their districts on May 3,” police officials confirmed.
Earlier, on April 11, when polling began in the northern Baramulla district, security forces killed a 13-year-old boy, Owais Ahmad Mir, during the crackdown on an anti-India demonstration. A resident of Mandigam village of Kupwara district and a seventh grade student, Owais was hit by multiple pellets on his head, neck and chest. Doctors who operated on him in the district hospital confirmed that he was “brought dead,” with serious injuries to the chest.
Last month, the Indian National Investigation Agency arrested the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief, Yasin Malik, on allegations of “funding separatist groups”. He was later shifted to Delhi’s Tihar jail where his condition deteriorated after he went on a hunger strike for ten consecutive days.
The situation in the disputed State continues to remain turbulent, and the polling percentage in key districts has remained less than 20% .