Kulgam, Jul 22: Police in Kulgam district has arrested two workers of the opposition National Conference (NC) over the allegation that they had set a Police station on fire and looted weapons from the armoury of the same police station. There has been an allegation that the duo fired on a camp of Rashtriya Rifles from amid a huge crowd after funeral prayers for the Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani had been performed at Damhal, Hanjipora, in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district, on July 9.
This is from among the many incidents on July 9 where uncontrollable groups in the Valley attacked and set ablaze multiple Police installations including Police Stations of Damhal Hanjipora and Kund in Kulgam, something that was mentioned in a press conference by IG Kashmir SJM Gillani.
According to media reports, Senior Superintendent of Police Mohammad Irshad corroborated that seven persons had been arrested and were subjected to questioning for the damage meted out to public property on July 9.
The SSP also gave credence to the fact that two detainees, both residents of Khul Ahmadabad, had confessed the looting of weapons from Damhal Hanjipora Police Station alongwith firing on the local Army camp using the cover of the crowd.
In the ensuing shootout, two civilians, including a woman, were killed and several others injured. The SSP did not comment on the political association of the accused but asserted that the automatic rifles used in the firing on Army had been recovered from them.
According to a report in State Times, both the accused were “known activists of National Conference and staunch supporters of the former Minister Sakeena Itoo”.
The SSP, according to media reports, said that during the course of the investigation it was learned that these two persons carried flammable liquid (Petrol) in a huge plastic container from their village Khul Ahmadabad, located 8 Kms away from Damhal Hanjipora and used the petrol to set on fire CJM’s court and residence and thereafter the Police Station.
As many as 41 weapons, including SLRs, Insas rifles and AK-47s, were missing after the Police Station, along with its Kot (armoury), was set ablaze by the crowd.
“We have recovered 35 guns but 30 of them are charred. Six weapons, including one AK-47, are still missing but we have identified the persons who have looted the same and we are sure to get back every single weapon”, SSP Irshad said.
The senior superintendent of police claimed that none of the 41 missing weapons had fallen in the hands of militants. He said that in addition to 41 Police weapons, 11 AK-47s, seized from militants, were also destroyed in the blaze.
Meanwhile, Ms Itoo, who has been NC’s MLA, MLC and Minister several times, dismissed reports that her party’s workers were involved in burning public properties, attacking Police Station or Army camp.
“This is absurd and utter nonsense. Our workers are neither stone throwers nor saboteurs. Unlike our opponents, we have been religiously associated with development and peace building. Even in 2008 and 2010 mass agitation, there was not a single incident of violence or clash in my constituency (Noorabad)”, Ms Itoo, herself a resident of Damhal Hanjipora, said.
“I had raised this court complex and Police station with my sweat and blood. These were very beautiful buildings. Our people know it well. How could they even think about burning down such public properties? This is not National Conference’s tradition”, Ms Itoo asserted.
“It may be nothing but a sinister conspiracy to frame our workers in the current turbulence and violence. Everybody knows who these people are. Find about those killed or injured in this turbulence.”
According to Ms Itoo, people of different villages gathered at Damhal Hanjipora on July 9th and they performed Burhan Wani’s funeral prayers in absentia. SHO Haider went to the Eidgah and he picked up some youths. Scores of people rushed to the Police Station and implored him to set the youths free. He, however, misbehaved with them.
“As the situation came to an altercation and the people began fighting with SHO, his PSO Parvez opened fire in which a woman and a man, who was from a different village and had gone to his relatives after Eid, were killed. The SHO escaped and took shelter in the Army camp. The angry crowd set the Police Station on fire. The last Policeman, Constable Niyaz Ahmad, attempted to put out the fire with the help of three residents, but failed. Soon he too escaped.”
Two FIRs have been filed regarding the shootout and the crowd’s attack on the Police Station, court complex and the Army camp.
With inputs from State Times