Srinagar: Parts of Kashmir Valley erupted on Saturday amid brewing tensions over the incidents of arson that took place during a shutdown in Jammu a day ago and reports of harassment of Kashmiri students and traders in some parts of the country in the wake of the Pulwama recent terror attack which left 49 CRPF dead. Valley traders have called a bandh on Sunday to protest the violence in Jammu.
Curfew remained in force in entire Jammu city for second consecutive day in view of Friday’s violence during which irate crowds torched dozens of vehicles owned by minority Muslim community in some parts of the winter capital. Some city residents alleged on Saturday that they were attacked despite the curfew being in force.
Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik ordered strict action against those indulging in violence or rumour mongering.
The governor directed the police “to take strict action without mercy against those indulging in any type of violence, arson or rumour mongering irrespective of political and religious affiliation,” an official statement said.
Jammu incidents and reports of alleged harassment of Kashmiri students and traders in some other parts of the country, including Dehradun, set off tension in the Kashmir Valley on Saturday as irate crowds took to the streets in protest in Srinagar and southern town of Anantnag. Youth also clashed with the police and Central armed forces, the witnesses said.
Parts of Anantnag erupted mainly because of a rumour that a local resident has been killed in an attack in Sarwal area of Jammu. The authorities were quick to deny any such incident has taken place and warned the “rumour mongers” of severe action.
A police spokesman said, “Malicious rumour is being spread about the death in Sarwal. Rumour mongers will be dealt strictly under law.” The police also denied Kashmiri drivers or their vehicles have been attacked in Udhampur.
The Valley’s traders’ bodies have called for a Kashmir bandh on Sunday in protest against the Jammu incidents and harassment of Kashmiri traders and students elsewhere in the country. On Saturday afternoon, the traders of Srinagar’s commercial hub Lal Chowk and its neighbourhood brought their shutters down in protest against the “attacks” on Kashmiris in Jammu and outside the state.
Tensions heightened after reports that Kashmiri students in Dehradun have been forced to vacate their rented accommodations in the wake of the Pulwama attack. Reacting to these reports, the J&K police officials said that they have spoken to their counterparts in Uttarakhand “who assured us that they are in touch with the representative of Kashmiri boys and all necessary arrangements for the safety and security of students in Dehradun have been put in place.”
Jammu’s deputy commissioner Ramesh Kumar said that the situation remained peaceful throughout the City on Saturday. He said officers of civil administration and law enforcing agencies will review the situation and decide whether to relax the curfew on Sunday.
Residents of Janipur housing colony of Jammu said that their properties were attacked thrice by unruly mobs on Saturday even as the city was under curfew. They alleged that the police and other law enforcing authorities were not acting tough on the “miscreants”.
In the wake of Friday’s incidents and alleged attacks and harassment of Kashmiris in Jammu, the state government employees stationed in the winter capital in connection with the ‘Darbar move’ or biannual office shift have threatened to return to the Valley en-mass if the authorities do not take measures to ensure their safety.
Owais A. Wani, the state president of The Darbar Move (non-secretariat) Employees Federation, alleged that the Kashmiri employees are not safe in Jammu as the residential quarters allotted to them by the state’s estates department at Janipora and some other parts of the city have been attacked by miscreants.
Rakesh Gupta, president of Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry which had given the call for shutdown, condemned the violence on Friday but said that the situation has been brought under control fully.
“We had called for the shutdown to show solidarity with the CRPF and the families of its jawans who lost their lives in the terror attack. Some ugly incidents occurred during the bandh but it is not Jammu alone which has some miscreants. I assure no further harm will be allowed to come to the people,” he told this newspaper.