Police Firing Triggers Panic In Lal Chowk

Police Firing Triggers Panic In Lal Chowk

28 October 2010
Greater Kashmir
Gowhar Bhat

Srinagar: Panic gripped the heart of Srinagar city Thursday afternoon when police opened fire in the busy marketplaces of Aabi Guzar and Residency Road here. Policemen in a Maruti Van coming rushing towards Regal Chowk indiscriminately fired gunshots in the air amidst huge rush of people after arresting a youth from Aabi Guzar. The incident triggered panic among people who ran helter skelter. The shopkeepers rolled down the shutters in panic while shopper and pedestrians scurried for cover. A number of civilians were hurt in the rush. Most people took the policemen as Fidayeen (suicide attackers) since they were driving in a civilian vehicle. “As I saw gunmen on a firing rampage, I just pulled down the shutter and hide myself inside. A number of armoured CRPF vehicles rushed to the area. I thought it was a Fidayeen attack,” said a shopkeeper at Aabi Guzar entrance. However, the incident turned out to be a police raid. Policemen led by SP City East and SHO Kothi Bagh bundled a youth, Altaf Ahmad Sheikh son of Fayaz Ahmad Sheikh of Aabi Guzar, Bund, a shopkeeper, into the vehicle from his residence. His father was also picked up from the roadside and detained by the police. The arrests triggered protests in the area with people, including women, staging protests and pelting stones on police. Police lobbed teargas shells to disperse the people. According to the locals, Altaf and his father were nabbed by police following a verbal brawl with a local. Police, however, said Altaf was evading arrest for a long time as he was involved in abetting and organizing stone pelting. When some shopkeepers asked a senior officer leading the police squad why they opened fire in a crowded marketplace forcing closure of shops, the officer said: “The shops have been closed down for the past five months. What if you close down them now?”


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