Crime flourishes under the shadow of gun in Valley
2 April 2001
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: For a state that has lived under the shadow of militancy for over a decade now, any other criminal activity fails to attract attention. The fact remains the crime graph has been rising steadily in the strife-torn State. Only last week, two youngmen were arrested from Pahalgam for murdering a couple. The killers swooped on Abdul Rashid Teli's house after they got to know he had sold off a plot. The assailants slit Teli's throat and hung his wife, Haseeba, to death only to find a "booty" of Rs 40. The assailants were reportedly drug addicts, another social problem plaguing the State. A day later, the police were busy trailing a young woman in north Kashmir's Handwara who had reportedly killed another woman. On March 25 a youth was found murdered near the Dal Gate. Incidents of burglary, car lifting, timber smuggling and extortion have also gone up. Organised gangs are known to operate in Srinagar, Baramullah, Anantnag, Shopian, Pulwama, Sopore and Kupwara. According to newspaper reports more than 300 cases of burglary, theft and extortion have already been reported in the Valley this year. The number of such incidents has been steadily growing ever since the advent of militancy. A police officer said people now had easy access to guns and other weapons, which was often being misused. IG (Kashmir range) Dr Ashok Bhan, however, disagrees. He said reports of increase in non-militant crimes were "exaggerated and farfetched". Claiming the crime rate had gone down considerably, Bhan accepted an increase in car thefts. The Delhi Police has reportedly sent a list of 938 vehicles stolen and smuggled to the Valley. Only 28 of these vehicles have been recovered so far.