Over 7,000 held during ongoing violence in Kashmir valley

Protesters throw stones at policemen during a protest in Srinagar. (Photo: PTI)
More than 7,000 people were arrested by police during the ongoing unrest in the Kashmir Valley that started here on July 9, but 5,500 of them were let off on promise of good behaviour, a top police source has said.

"Around 7,000 people, mostly youth, were arrested at various police stations in the valley during the over three-month-long unrest. Of them, around 5,500 were bound through undertakings of good conduct by their parents after which they were released," the source said.

"In cases of habitual stone-pelters, who had police records of being involved in such incidents in the past as well, around 350 have been booked under the PSA (Public Safety Act). Another 100-200 wanted persons are still evading arrest.

"Those arrested under the PSA have been lodged in jails outside the valley and also, in many cases, in different jails within the valley," the source said.

Commenting on the evidence based on which the general and special category arrests have been made, another source said human intelligence, videographic evidence collected during protests and stone-pelting, CCTV footage and other scientific methods were used to establish cases against the arrested persons.

"A good number of those arrested during the unrest are those who instigate youths in mobs to indulge in violence. These also include those responsible for issuing threats to people for not joining the protests or defying the diktats of the separatists," the source said.

In addition to nocturnal raids, security forces have been arresting people during mob-control exercises as well, but such youths are mostly released after their innocence has been established.

"It sometimes happens that those people responsible for creating violence during protests manage to run away while the youth sitting on the flanks get caught. A compassionate view is taken and such innocent youth are released after preliminary questioning," a senior police officer said.

Of around 1,500 people still in police custody who have not been booked for serious offences, the police said most would soon be released.

A person arrested under the harsh PSA can be kept in detention for a maximum of two years without trial. Arrests under the PSA can only be challenged in the state high court, which is empowered to set aside the detention order.

Arrests under the PSA are based on dossiers prepared by the state police and accepted by the state Home Department on the recommendations of the district magistrates concerned.

The authorities do not always order PSA detentions for two years. "In most cases, the initial detention period is six months which is then reviewed by district-level review committees," a police officer said.

After the current unrest started here on July 9, a day after Hizbul commander Burhan Wani was killed in a gunfight with the security forces, authorities have placed all separatist leaders under detention.

Octogenarian separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani has been placed under house arrest in his uptown Hyderpora residence in Srinagar.

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chairman of moderate Hurriyat group, was shifted to the high-security Chashma Shahi area in Srinagar where he has been detained inside a tourist hut which was designated a sub-jail.

Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik was first detained at the Humhama sub-jail and later shifted to the Central Jail here.

Nine-two civilians have been killed and over 12,000 injured in the cycle of violence that started on July 9. Of the injured people, around 100 face the prospect of partial or complete blindness for the rest of their lives.

The worst eye injuries have occurred due to use of pellet guns fired by the security forces during mob control exercises.

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