Demolition drive turns violent; 15 injured
Manhunt Launched To Trace ‘Miscreants’
ARIF SHAFI WANI
Srinagar, Oct 15: At least 15 persons including 10 policemen were injured besides several tourist vehicles damaged when violent clashes broke out during a major demolition drive on the Western Foreshore Road along the Dal Lake here today.
The trouble erupted when the demolition squad of the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) launched the demolition drive on the Western Foreshore Road. However, hundreds of residents took to streets and blocked the main road at Khonakhan to thwart the demolition.
Though the local legislator also reached the spot and asked the LAWDA officials to suspend the demolition in view of the tourism season, however the drive was carried on.
Witnesses said while the policemen attempted to remove the blockade to facilitate the demolition, people offered stiff resistance triggering violent clashes. Police had to fire several teargas canisters and cane-charge the angry protesters forcing them to disperse.
However, the mob was joined by hundreds of protesters who resorted to heavy stone pelting on the police. In the melee, several tourist vehicles parked on the Western Foreshore Road were damaged. The protesters marched towards the main road and attacked a posse of police. But soon police reinforcements reached the spot preventing the situation from escalation.
The heavy contingent of police chased away the protesters. As soon as the demolition drive resumed, people again resorted to stone pelting and in the ensuing scuffle 10 policemen including DSP Enforcement LAWDA Farhat Jeelani, SHO Ram Munshi Bagh Nazir Ahmad, Divisional Officer Nehru Park Police Post Muhammad Shafi were injured. The locals said at least five persons including Rafiqa Bano wife of Abdul Rashid of Khonakhan was injured in the clashes.
Later police again swung into action firing teargas canisters to pave way for the demolition. Officials said over a dozen structures were demolished in the area.
“We carried the demolition drive on the directions of the High Court. However, our squad was attacked by the offenders injuring five of them. I was also attacked and suffered injuries in the incident. However, we managed to demolish over a dozen structures in the area,” DSP Enforcement LAWDA Farhat Jeelani told Greater Kashmir.
Meanwhile, police has registered an FIR into the incident including stone pelting and launched a manhunt to nab the accused. “We have video-graphed the whole incident and identification of stone-pelters is on. We hope to arrest them soon,” a senior police officer said.
However, the locals accused the LAWDA of harassment. “The LAWDA officials don’t dare to touch the illegal structures of influential people in posh areas like Boulevard and Nishat. They always target the poor people,” they alleged.
Vice-chairperson LAWDA, Irfan Yasin, however rebutted the allegations. “We act strictly according to the High Court directions which is monitoring the Dal conservation. Demolition drive is a continuous process and we take action wherever we find the illegal structures. In many cases, we have taken action against our watch and ward staff found to have facilitated the illegal construction,” Yasin said.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 15 Oct 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 15 Oct 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 16 Oct 2011 00:00:00 IST
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