Srinagar: Clashes erupted in Zainakote HMT area in Srinagar on Wednesday after Paramilitary CRPF started wire fencing work around its camp. The CRPF move irritated locals who observed a complete shutdown while agitated youth hit to road and pelted stones on the forces demanding immediate removal of the CRPF camp from the area.
Pertinently, the paramilitary CRPF had occupied HMT watch factory premises spanning over some 2000 kanals at Zainakote in May 2010 and that time the step had drawn flak from the industrialists who said the move was detrimental for their business. The CRPF camped its 44 Battalion Headquarters here and from past five years locals have been demanding withdrawal of the troopers from the area complaining that the “industrial area has been converted into army base.”
Eyewitnesses told CNS that locals came out from their houses while traders closed their shops after CRPF started wire fencing work around the camp adjacent to the playground. “We were hoping that this camp will be removed but the fencing of the camp implies that they have no plan to do so. We can’t tolerate this and will continue to protest till the camp is not removed,” the agitated locals said.
They said three youth in the area have fell to the bullets of these CRPF personnel since 2010. “These men killed Fida Nabi, Suhail Hussain and recently they martyred engineering student Gowhar Nazir. This camp is nuisance for us. We especially women folk have been feeling insecure while venturing out from their houses. This camp is the source of stone-pelting and violence in the area,” the agitated youth who clashed with the police said.
They asked government to remove the CRPF camp without further excuses as the demand being projected by the inhabitants of the area is genuine beyond doubt.
Spokesperson CRPF, Aishish Kumar Jah said that youth in HMT area are “habitual of creating law and order problem” on daily basis. “We enclosed our camp with wire and didn’t occupy any portion of land. The protesters last month had demolished the wall of the camp and to secure our base, we enclosed it barbed wire. It was State Government that provided us this land in 2010,” he said.
Meanwhile, local legislator Noor Muhammad said that there is no need of CRPF camp in the area. “These forces personnel were deployed for the HMT factory which is almost defunct and thus there is no need of this camp,” he said adding that State Home Department is working on his representation which he made against the continuation of the CRPF camp in the area.