CASO back in Downtown Srinagar after 17 years

CASO back in Downtown Srinagar after 17 years

Police conduct door-to-door searches, check mobile phones of youth

Much to the annoyance of residents of Downtown Srinagar, government forces launched a cordon-and-search operation in HabbaKadal and its adjoining areas on Sunday.

The CASO, according to a source, lasted for more than two hours. A group of residents from HabbaKadal and its adjoining areas including Push Mohalla, ChinkralMohalla and Shalyar said that they saw a heavy contingent of forces including J&K police arriving in their areas. 

“Fear gripped the residents as forces personnel carried out door-to-door searches and also checked mobile phones of youth,” said Nazir Ahmed, a resident.

He said that it was a sight last witnessed in HabbaKadal in 2000.

“I remember there was a crackdown in HabbaKadal and ChinkralMohalla areas in November 2000 and we were asked to assemble in main chowkHabbaKadal,” he said.

A local youth, who wished not to be quoted by name, said that despite massive protests in the area during the 2010 and 2016 uprisings, there were no door-to-door searches conducted in the area.

“A masked trooper checked my mobile today and asked me whether I was having any photographs of militants in the gallery. Isn’t this a breach of privacy,” he questioned.

An elderly man, who lives in Push Mohalla, said that the forces personnel searched his entire house and later checked the phones of his two sons.

“It was after a long time that we had such a situation in our area. These things had vanished. We used to see crackdowns till mid ‘90s and it seems that things have gone from bad to worse as door-to-door searches have returned again,” he said, wishing not to be named.

A group of women said that fear gripped them when forces personnel “barged into our homes.” 

“They searched the cupboards, trunks, almirahs and everything that came their way. They also sought details of family members and nature of their jobs,” they said.