Massive crackdown to prevent stone pelting, 40 arrested

A boatman carries vegetables at Dal lake in Srinagar on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Shakeel
A boatman carries vegetables at Dal lake in Srinagar on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Shakeel

Middle schools to re-open today

Fayaz Bukhari

SRINAGAR, Aug 20: At least 40 people were arrested in overnight raids in Srinagar city after increase in stone pelting incidents in last few days with normal life remaining disrupted for 16th consecutive day today.
The arrests have been made in the areas where there has been intensifying stone pelting in the last few days. Security forces have been regularly targeted in some parts of Srinagar, particularly when they withdraw during the evening.
At least 12 persons were detained from Mehjoor Nagar area of South Srinagar which had seen violent clashes for last few days. The parents of these persons had lined up outside Rajbagh Police Station and they were seeking release of their wards. A woman told Excelsior that her son is innocent and was not involved in stone pelting.
There have been over 2000 arrests and detentions in the entire Kashmir valley since Aug 4, a day before withdrawal of special status for Jammu and Kashmir. The subsidiary jails have been formed at district level where these detainees have been kept. It may be mentioned here that Director General of Police Dilbag Singh had put the figures of those arrested or detained at 300.
The restrictions were removed from parts of Srinagar but in old city areas, the troops had barricaded the roads and were allowing movements of the people who were having curfew passes or were Government employees.
The shops were closed across Srinagar and public traffic was off the roads. However, some private cars and two wheelers were plying in civil lines areas and SRTC buses ferried the Government employees to and fro Civil Secretarait.
People mostly stayed indoors and children in certain areas in by-lanes were seen playing cricket and at places carom. There was uneasy calm in the entire Srinagar. The stone pelting incidents were lesser today than last few days.
The attendance in Srinagar schools was almost negligible. Excelsior visited at least one dozen schools across Srinagar and found no students had showed up in these schools. They included schools which are in posh and high security zone areas.
Attendance in nearly 200 primary schools, which reopened on Monday, had “considerably improved”, Government spokesman and Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal said at a media briefing today, but did not provide any data on how many students showed up, despite multiple requests.
Kansal said that after receiving feedback from parents – he did not specify the number of requests, or how they reached him since communication is down – authorities will go ahead with reopening some middle-schools in the Kashmir valley tomorrow.
Mobile and internet connections in the Kashmir valley remained snapped for 16th straight day, and many landline telephones that were restored over the weekend are also not properly working. “We will try to restore 100% landline connectivity,” Kansal said at the briefing, without providing a timeline.
He also declined to disclose how many people had been detained by authorities since restrictions were imposed on Aug 5.
He said that normal functioning of large parts of the State was reported today with 12 out of 22 districts functioning normally.
Kansal said that out of 197 police stations across J&K, 136 police stations have no day time restrictions.
He said public transport has started plying in areas where relaxations have been provided and inter-district transport has also started functioning, adding that National Highway and Airports are functioning normally.
On the position of stock and supply in Kashmir valley, he said there was adequate supply of essentials and 13,287 LPG cylinders were distributed among consumers during the few days.
He said out of 93,000 landlines, 73,000 have started functioning and rest of the landlines would operate soon. However, the landlines in majority areas of Srinagar are non-functional including two main hospitals of Kashmir valley – SMHS and SKIMs- and Press Enclave where most of the journalists have their offices.