Amid arrest of over thirty youth by police in Pulwama on Saturday night, the townSunday observed complete shutdown for the eleventh consecutive day Sunday against the administration and police’s opposition to erecting a memorial at Shaheed Park for the militants killed in encounters in the district during the last year. Police sources said that more than thirty youth were arrested by police in night raids in Washbugh locality, which promoted people to come out of their homes and raise protests against the security forces. All the shops, business establishments, private offices, banks, and coaching centres remained completely shut in the town, while private as well as the passenger transport stayed off the roads. The tension gripped the township a fortnight ago following a shutdown in the town against the killing a local LeT militant, Omais Ahmad Sheikh in Bandipora district. Later, the situation in the district worsened due to the arrests of some youth on charges of stone pelting and the subsequent plan of the youth to to erect the memorial at Shaheed Park. The police, however, thwarted the bid, subsequently arresting about 20 youths from various areas of the district, mostly from the Pulwama town. Even as the police, in order to pacify the anger, released around a dozen arrested boys late Mondayevening, the shutdown continued in the town, with youths demanding that they be allowed to erect the memorial. The talks held between top police officials and members of the traders’ federation also failed to break the deadlock. The district administration and police have not agreed to allow setting up of the memorial. However, the traders and the local Auqaf committees have threatened to launch indefinite strike till they install the memorial, despite the traders facing huge losses worth crores due to the shutdown. As situation is spiraling into chaos, the local legislator, Mohammad Khalil Bandh, hoped that the issue be resolved through consensus. “The situation in the district is worsening. I hope the issue is resolved through consensus between people and the administration,” Bandh said, though evading his role as the legislator in this tense situation. District commissioner and police officials did not respond to phone calls from KNS.
2015 Kashmir Despatch