Mob sets vehicles of Kashmiris ablaze in Police presence
The government imposed curfew in Jammu city on Thursday after a mob set ablaze vehicles of Kashmiris and vandalized properties of residents of Gujjar Nagar and Talab Khatikan.
The mob gathered to vent their ire against the locals living in these areas to protest the Pulwama militant attack in which 44 CRPF men were killed and several others injured.
The protesters raising anti-Kashmiri slogans torched dozens of vehicles bearing Kashmir number plates while several others were vandalised in Gujjar Nagar and other localities of Jammu city.
Following violence, huge contingents of Police and paramilitary CRPF men were deployed in the area to bring the situation under control.
The authorities also imposed curfew and suspended internet services in the city to thwart any untoward incident.
“In view of the prevailing law and order situation in district Jammu, there is every likelihood of breach of peace, which may lead to acts of arson, targeting vehicles and causing loss of life and property. In order to maintain law and order, public tranquility and to protect life and property of general public, I Ramesh Kumar, District Magistrate Jammu in exercise of power vested in me under section 144 Criminal Procedure Code hereby impose curfew in the area of whole Jammu city,” reads an order issued by District Magistrate Jammu.
Talking to Rising Kashmir, many Kashmiris who are in Jammu city, said they were living in fear since morning and had confined themselves to their homes.
Mushtaq Batloo, a businessman, said following protests many Kashmiris were planning to leave the city at the earliest.
“I am here for a business visit. But the situation is turning ugly. We are scared. Many of us (Kashmiris) have booked the early morning flight to Kashmir tomorrow,” Batloo said.
Eyewitnesses in Gujjar Nagar, which was the most-affected area, alleged that it was a pre-planned attack on the minority community.
“We have never seen such a large mob. They came from both sides of the bridge. Despite the presence of Police, they attacked our shops and vandalised our vehicles. At least 25 to 30 vehicles including motorcycles were torched in the parking site stretching from Prem Nagar washing station to Gujjar Nagar,” they said. “Most of these vehicles belong to Kashmiris.”
The locals said the protesters carrying Indian flags were chanting pro-India, anti-Kashmiri and anti-Pakistan slogans.
The protesters also vandalised vehicles in Residency Road, a posh colony, in Jammu.
Locals said many vehicles belonging to Kashmiris were damaged.
The protesters also attacked Kashmiri-dominated government quarters in Janipur, Subash Nagar and Company Colony in the city.
Civil Secretariat Employees Union President Ghulam Rasool Mir told Rising Kashmir that their residential quarters were attacked.
“A large mob pelted stones at our headquarters damaging window panes of several houses. The vehicles parked along roadside were also damaged. Our families are feeling insecure,” Mir said.
He said they had requested the authorities for security but no one came for help.
“We are planning to leave the city. We can’t put our families in danger,” Mir said.
President Darbar Move Employees Federation, Owais Wani also urged the State administration to ensure them a fool proof security or they would return Kashmir.
“I have brought it into the notice of the Chief Secretary, Director General of Police and Commissioner Secretary Home,” Wani said. “If the government fails to provide the required security to safeguard the life and property of the employees, we will appeal employees to protect themselves and their families and return Kashmir.”
Deputy Commissioner Jammu, Rakesh Kumar said the situation was under control, however, curfew would remain in place all night long.
“We have brought the situation under control. Some miscreants tried to disturb the normalcy, so we have imposed the curfew,” Kumar said. “We will assess the situation Saturday morning before taking the final call on lifting curfew.”
On the number of vehicles that were set ablaze, Kumar said the administration was still in a process of counting the total number of damaged vehicles.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Jammu Range, M K Sinha also appealed for maintaining societal and communal harmony and asked people not to play into the hands of anti-national elements.
“They want to disturb our societal harmony. Defeat their designs. Don’t get provoked. Maintain calm,” he said.
To defuse the situation, the Divisional Commissioner Jammu also held a meeting with the political parties Friday evening.
Representatives of National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Congress and the BJP were present in the meeting.
Chairman Jammu Muslim Front Shuja Zaffar, who was part of the meeting, said all the members urged the administration to restore normalcy and book the culprits involved in creating communal disharmony in the city.
“It was a cordial meeting. All the members stressed on the fact that it was the carelessness of the administration that encouraged these fringe elements to create a vicious atmosphere,” Zaffar said.
Following the Fidayeen attack in which at least 44 paramilitary CRPF personnel were killed and several injured along the Srinagar-Jammu highway at Lethpora area in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Thursday, Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) had called for a shutdown in Jammu City on Friday, while the Bar Association Jammu extended its support to the strike.
Meanwhile, the Army has been requested to help the administration in maintaining law and order and conduct flag marches.