No Cops In Four South Kashmir Districts As Protests Rage

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Jammu: Four districts of south Kashmir Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag have descended into anarchy with hundreds and thousands holding ‘azadi’ rallies almost daily in absence of an effective police force. Out of 36 police stations in these districts, only three —one each in Pulwama, Rajpora and Awantipora are functioning with any semblance of efficacy.

Barring these, all cops have evacuated police stations since frenzied mobs began their attacks, setting a number of these ablaze. Sources said the police department has “for the time being” shut down dozens of police stations. Most have turned into empty shells now guarded by the Army and CRPF.

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CRPF personnel are no longer visible in south Kashmir. In places like Aishmuqam in Anantnag, sources in the force said they had been instructed to remain mute spectators while crowds rule the streets.

Scores of youth have joined the militants in Tral, where organised training camps are being run by top LeT and JeM commanders to turn out jihadis, a senior police officer told TOI. The latest unrest in the valley since the killing of Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani has claimed 67 lives. Curfew, meanwhile, continued for the 45th day on Monday.

It all began when a mob attacked a police station at Damhal Hanjipora in Kulgam district in south Kashmir on July 12, during protests against the killing of Wani in an encounter with the security forces on July 8. The mob bolted with nearly 70 semi-automatic and automatic rifles and took two policemen of Damhal Hanjipora hostage. They were later released, but the guns were never recovered. “We hope these weapons haven’t fallen into wrong hands. Some local militants were seen carrying weapons in one of the ‘azadi’ rallies in Anantnag,” a police officer said. He said sensitive documents and police wireless communication codes too were taken away from the Hanjipora police station.

Fearing furious crowds, many policemen have taken shelter in CRPF and Army camps, sources said. “Army men have been deputed to protect police buildings from arsonists and CRPF men have been asked not to patrol the streets to avoid confrontation with the ‘azadi’ screaming crowds,” another senior police officer said. The police station Aishmuqam in Anantnag is protected by a company of CRPF and the few policemen inside have been instructed not to venture out. The police post at Tral, Wani’s home town, is shut.

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