Islamabad town shuts against ‘arrest spree’

Amid spontaneous shutdown, clashes broke out in old town area of this South Kashmir district on Saturday against “arrest spree by police” and alleged excesses by government forces.
Islamabad town shuts against ‘arrest spree’
Representational Picture
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Amid spontaneous shutdown, clashes broke out in old town area of this South Kashmir district on Saturday against "arrest spree by police" and alleged excesses by government forces.

Witnesses said early this morning, youth hit streets at Lal Chowk and areas like Reeshi Bazar, Cheeni Chowk, Malakhnag and Laizbal and staged pro-freedom demonstrations. They were demanding release of youth arrested following protests that rocked the town on Friday.

"The youth pelted stones on police and paramilitary forces who retaliated by lobbing tear-gas shells and resorting to baton charge," witnesses said.

"Several people including cops and CRPF men sustained injuries in the clashes."

They said shopkeepers in Lal Chowk and other nearby areas downed their shutters to protest the arrests.

On Friday evening, locals said, the forces barged into several houses in old town areas and ransacked goods and beat up inmates. They said even shopkeepers and pedestrians were not spared and beaten to pulp.

"From last several weeks, the forces have been firing tear gas shells into residential houses and even near schools and hospitals," said a shopkeeper at  Janglat Mandi area of old town.

He said police have been "randomly detaining pedestrians during protests and conducting nocturnal raids at houses of youths."

Reports said movement of traffic in old town areas remained affected and educational institutions were also closed. A police official, when contacted, denied that cops were arresting innocent youth.

"We have exercised maximum restraint while dealing with protests in Old town. However, we are sometimes forced to fire tear gas shells to quell protests," he said.

He said only "miscreants have been detained. They are involved in stone pelting."

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