Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC were issued and mobile internet services suspended in Jammu and Kashmir’s border districts of Rajouri and Poonch after some unidentified masked men set fire to two shops and two vehicles in Mendhar town of Poonch district in the early hours of Saturday.
The fire was doused and a case registered in the matter, sources said. No one was reported injured.
The miscreants are learnt to have later attacked the residence of a local BJP leader and former Poonch district vice-president of Hindu Mahasabha, Satish Kumar, in Mendhar town. They reportedly fled after Kumar fired warning shots in air from his licensed rifle.
The shops set on fire belonged to Shuban Gupta and Amit Tandon. The damaged cars, owned by Mohammad Zubair and Mohammad Aijaz, were parked at a distance from the gutted shops, officials said.
Jammu Divisional Commissioner Sanjeev Verma said it was not a communal incident but an act by miscreants. The situation is normal in Poonch district and efforts are on to identify and nab the miscreants, he added.
Shops and business establishments reopened in Mendhar town in the afternoon, and there was regular traffic on the roads.
The development comes three days after the administration lifted day curfew in Jammu, imposed after the violence and arson on February 15, during a bandh called in protest over the killing of 40 CRPF personnel in Pulwama terror attack. While mobile internet services were restored, prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC banning assembly of four and more people, continue to remain in force in Jammu.
Jammu District Magistrate Ramesh Kumar had also asked admins of all WhatsApp groups in the area to register themselves with the police stations concerned and put some restrictions on putting up messages on the medium for the time being.
This follows reports by the district police that “various irresponsible messages which can hurt regional and religious sentiments are being transmitted, forwarded and circulated on social media in Jammu district’’, the DM’s order pointed out.
Pointing out that there is also accountability to be associated with the freedom of expression, the order stated that each WhatsApp or Facebook group admin should report to the nearest police station if any post or rumour being circulated is sensitive in nature . “The admin shall be ready to bear the responsibility and content posted in the group, and that he/she shall immediately delete the said comment in addition to reporting to the nearest police station,” the order read.