July 2016 News

Kashmir Violence: Protesters Snatch 70 Police Guns, Build Armoury

12 July 2016
Times of India
Neeraj Chauhan

New Delhi: Security forces are bracing for the first Friday prayers after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani against the backdrop of growing evidence of a secessionist plot to raise an arsenal with arms snatched from security forces. According to sources, a mob took away around 70 semi-automatic and automatic weapons of J&K police after storming a police station in Damhal Hanji Pora in Kulgam two days ago. On Tuesday, two separate attempts were made with the purpose of snatching weapons from troops. In Tral, a group attacked four constables at a police post in the morning and tried to snatch their weapons. The policemen managed to save their rifles but protesters made away with the magazines. In late evening, a police station was attacked in Karalpura with the armoury as the possible target. It took the CRPF and a contingent of local police a lot of grit and resolve to push back the mob. On Monday, two CRPF men accompanying a civilian with a heart condition to a local hospital were attacked by a mob. 'The jawans fought despite being hit on the head with rods and stones and didn't let the protesters take the rifles,' said a CRPF official. Earlier, on Saturday, when protests swelled after Wani's death, a police post was looted in Brijbehara and several weapons taken away by the protesters. The youth, gathering in large numbers in areas like Anantnag, Shopian, Kulgam and Pulwama districts in south Kashmir and Baramulla, Sopore, Kupwara, Ganderbal and Bandipora towns, are indulging in sporadic attacks on the police and paramilitary forces, said a senior J&K official. Looting of weapons from the police and armed forces, which was common a decade ago, had waned. It escalated recently after Wani's emergence, with the poster boy of Hizbul Mujahideen calling upon J&K youth to attack forces and snatch away their weapons. Security experts said most of the snatched weapons ended up in the hands of local militants and were used against the forces, compounding the threat they faced from from heavily-armed Pakistani terrorists belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad sent by ISI to the Valley. The timing of gun snatchings marks a new worry for security forces as they enter a tough spell. Tuesday saw a 3000-strong belligerent crowd defying curfew and the heavy presence of security forces to turn out at Tral on the fourth day of Wani's killing.

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