SRI NAGAR: There have been allegations in the past that police “high-handedness” is ruining the lives of Kashmiri youth and pushing them to the wall.
The two recent instances of a female football coach pelting stones at security personnel in Srinagar’s city centre Lal Chowk and joining militancy by a local youth have again raised question marks on policing and the need for reforms in the force.
The 21-year-old Afshan Ashiq, who wants to represent India in women football, was captured in camera pelting stones at police and paramilitary forces during student protests on April 24. She is a football coach and is pursuing her bachelor’s degree at Women’s College in Srinagar.
It was for the first time that girl students were engaged in clashes with security personnel and pelted stones on them and their vehicles.
On why she pelted stones, Afshan said, “I, along with a group of female students, was on our way to TRC grounds in Srinagar for practice. We were caught in clashes between male students and policemen at Lal Chowk. The police then intimidated us.”
“We resorted to stone pelting to convey a message that girls shouldn’t be considered weak. It was our reaction to police high-handedness,” she said.
A week after Afshan pelted stones at cops in Lal Chowk, 23-year-old Zubair Ahmad Turray escaped from police custody in south Kashmir’s Shopian district on May 1. He was arrested by police on charges of stone pelting and booked under stringent Public Safety Act at least eight times.
Zubair on May 14 released a video in which he announced joining militant ranks. In the video, which has gone viral, he blamed police highhandedness for taking up arms.
“I was detained despite my detention being quashed by the court. Every effort of my father to get me released failed. My story is sorrowful and heart-breaking. I didn’t see any other way but join militants,” he said.
‘Enquiry pending in human shield case’
Defence spokesman in Srinagar, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, on Monday said that enquiry was yet to be completed into tying of a civilian in front of an army jeep as a human shield and parading him in villages to prevent the youth from pelting stones. Some media reports had claimed that the army officer who used the civilian as human shield was cleared of all charges.