October 17, 2010 12:34:45 pm
Nowhatta,the hotbed of protests over the last two decades in Jammu and Kashmir,was unusually calm this summer when most of the Valley erupted leaving 106 people dead and thousands others injured.
The locality near the Jamia Masjid in the interior city had been the first to witness violence during past few years.
Even the central square has been named after Muntazar Ahmad,who was killed in clash with security forces a few years ago.
A stone’s throw away from the ‘Shaheed Muntazar Chowk’ is a worn-out building of Nowhatta police station which bore the brunt of violence during the 2008 Amarnath land row agitation.
Even though Nowhatta,with an estimated population of 5,000 people,is a sensitive place,a change in strategy by the local police has brought down the number of protests in this area.
In 2008,when streets across the Valley were filled with angry crowds,the police station recorded 21 cases of intense and mild stone-pelting in its areas of jurisdiction.
The number of incidents in 2009,when Valley witnessed protests over the death of two women in Shopian district,32 clashes between stone-throwing protestors and the police were recorded.
However,this year,the number of stone-throwing incidents is still the lowest as compared to recent years even though the unrest has entered its fifth month now.
Only 18 cases have been registered so far and the reason is the change in the deployment strategy of the police.
“We changed our strategy of deployment and that has given us a respite and it is working,” a police official said.
“We keep the deployment on the main roads,even though we remove them from the alleys,” he said.
The main reasons for the decline in protests is strict implementation of curfew in the area on almost every Friday since the unrest began and the identification of protest instigators.
The ready gathering at the Jamia Masjid after the prayers had become ‘tools’ at the hands of instigators of stone-pelting,sources said.
104 youths were arrested from the area on charges of stone-pelting during the unrest this year. Four of them were later booked under the Public Safety Act.
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