Amid frequent sieges, Nowhatta cries harassment
GK CITY CORRESPONDENT
Srinagar, Oct 30: Stuck in curfews and other restrictions more frequently than the normal life during the ongoing unrest, the residents of volatile Nowhatta –often termed as the old City’s jugular vein –are up in arms against the government saying the harassment at the hands of men in uniform was surging with each passing day.
For now, the locals said, Saturday was the worst alleging that police and paramilitary CRPF went berserk in the area many a time as they patrolled in armoured vehicles more frequently than before.
Fear writ large at Gojwara Chowk where broken glass panes and stones dotted the road, presumably an aftermath of stone-pelting there. While cops stood on guard, a group of women emerged from a by-lane to tell their woes.
“We have been suffering unheard. Nobody seems interested to highlight our plight as if we are not humans,” they said.
They said on Saturday not only the residents but even passer-by were beaten by the troops.
“On seeing some biker being beaten by police we tried to come to his rescue but we were also beaten,” the women said. Meanwhile, some of the Mohalla males joined the women folk.
The group said they were witnessing a new police operation.
“Policemen zoom past in three to four gypsies from one side and CRPF comes in from the other side only to raid a particular area,” the residents said adding this continued throughout the day.
The Nowhatta locals said not even the schoolchildren were spared adding that 9th standard student and another from class 11th were first beaten and then dragged away.
The women folk said their resentment proved fruitful as they could get the boys free from the clutches.
“But a few other local youth were whisked away,” the residents said.
A group of youth accused a local police station of snatching their identity cards only to call them to the Thana later.
“After our I Cards are snatched we are called to Thana where he( a police official) harasses us,” the youth alleged.
Pertinently, the Nowhatta, which houses the historic Jamia Masjid, has been in news for most part of the unrest.
Just yesterday the government locked down the Jamia Masjid for the eighth consecutive Friday as curfew was clamped in several downtown areas of the City.
From June, when the current unrest began, till the beginning of the Holy month of Ramazan, the Jamia Masjid remained closed for seven consecutive Fridays. Prayers were allowed on all Fridays during the holy month. However, since Eid-ul-Fitr, the Masjid has been closed down most of the times on Fridays drawing severe criticism from various quarters particularly Valley’s head priest and Hurriyat Conference (M) Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
But the police refutes the latest allegations from Nowhatta people.
“Some miscreants have been trying to malign the police image,” said a senior police official posted in the area.
He said the deployment of the troops was in place to avoid any untoward incidents.
“We had inputs that school buses could be targeted so we couldn’t take any chances,” he said.
The official said some Shahr-e-Khaas locals have been requesting the police to keep to deployment in place so that normal life could resume in the old City.
“The same sense of security was reflected Saturday as shops in Nowhatta were open only because police provided protection,” the official said adding a stone pelting accused was allegedly caught red handed in the area Saturday.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 30 Oct 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 30 Oct 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 31 Oct 2010 00:00:00 IST
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