After Schools, Shops The Target for Arsonists in Kashmir
SRINAGAR: After setting schools on fire, miscreants targeted marketplaces in Kashmir's Pulwama and Baramulla districts yesterday with petrol bombs, critically injuring a trader while his two shops were also gutted.
The twin attacks are the first of its kind on the community of small traders who are trying to resume business after suffering strikes and curfews for over four months, indicating that normalcy is still a far cry in the restive Valley.
The first incident took place at around 6 pm yesterday near a bank in Baramulla town, adjoining the historic Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway, where miscreants hurled at least three petrol bombs at roadside vendors who were doing brisk business in the area.
Witnesses said the bombs, however, missed their targets and exploded in a park, sparking panic in the town as shopkeepers downed their shutters and people started running for cover. Police said the miscreants are being identified and a case has been filed.
"We are investigating the matter," a senior police officer in Barmulla said, pleading anonymity.
Barely two hours after the attack, a petrol bomb was hurled inside a shop at the bus stand of south Kashmir's Pulwama town. A Police official said Aijaz Ahmad Malik, the shopkeeper, was critically injured in the attack.
"He has been referred to SMHS hospital. His both shops were gutted in the incident. We have formed a special team to investigate the matter and arrest the culprits soon," police said.
The attacks come a day after the Board exams started in Kashmir following weeks of political uncertainty and an ugly public spat between the government, the Hurriyat and the civil society over the issue.
In the run up to these exams, unknown miscreants torched at least 34 schools during the last two months. Police have arrested 30 persons in connection with these cases.
Though their intensity has come down, protests continue to rock parts of Kashmir for the fifth consecutive month since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Wani, in an encounter in Kokernag village, which sparked a civilian uprising.
The Army chief, Gen DS Suhag, visited the state yesterday amid heightening tensions along the de facto border with Pakistan where the two armies have targeted each other as well as civilian establishments without discrimination.
According to UN, both the armies have used artillery fire to target each others' positions for first time since the 2003 Ceasefire Agreement was brokered between the two nuclear armed countries.