Three army bunkers of 21 Rashtriya Rifles were dismantled by the state government in Handwara in Kupwara on Tuesday to lower tensions after five civilians were killed in army and police firing in protest against an alleged molestation bid of a girl by an army trooper. The dismantling of the bunkers was the main demand of the people
The main bunker in the town was set ablaze by the angry protesters during protests on April 13. The army had already vacated the bunkers after it allegedly killed two young boys during protests.
“Market will reopen from Wednesday. Transport was also plying,'' said Ajaz Ahmad Sofi, president, Traders Federation Handwara. He said Handwara Chowk has been renamed as Shaheed Nayeem Chowk. Nayeem Qadir Bhat was one of the three boys killed in the army and police firing.
The town area committee will construct a park with a fountain at the site.
Handwara legislator and minister for social welfare and training Sajad Gani Lone addressed a rally in Handwara. He said the removal of the bunkers was result of peoples efforts.
"The credit for this goes to the people of Handwara," he said.
But families of the slain civilians said they want action against those who killed their loved ones. “Razing the bunkers is a good step. But we also want justice. Those who killed our loved ones should be punished,” said Irshad Ahmad Dar, Nayeem's cousin.
In Srinagar, Awami Ithad Party (AIP) led by Sheikh Abdul Rasheed held a protest demanding punishment for the killers of five people in Handwara and elsewhere.
Rasheed tried to lead a march towards the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's residence but was stopped by the police two kilometers before.
“Terror Chowk has now turned to be a victory chowk for the people of Handwara and a day will come when all epitomes of terror will be dashed to earth in every part of J&K," said Rasheed.
Meanwhile, police arrested Hilal Ahmad Banday. Hilal was accused by the girl of molestation and it sparked violence in Kupwara.
Chief Army Dalbir Singh also visited Kupwara on Tuesday where he was briefed about the situation in Handwara and other parts of Kupwara.