15 Kashmiris Interrogated8 March 2010
Chennai: A group of itinerant shawl merchants from Kashmir had to prove their antecedents to the Chennai police after they were picked up from a lodge in Triplicane, close to the new State Assembly complex that is being expeditiously readied for inauguration on Saturday with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and AICC president Sonia Gandhi attending the function. With the police intensifying their vigil all over Chennai, particularly in the crowded Triplicane area, to identify ‘strangers’ staying there, in view of the forthcoming VVIP visit, the 15 Kashmiri men were taken for interrogation by the anti-terrorism squad. They were later cleared as harmless. “Besides checking their antecedents, we are also verifying fingerprints. So far, we have not found anything amiss,” a senior police officer told Express. They had told the police that around 600 itinerant merchants like them had moved out of Kashmir and are selling shawls in various parts of the country, including Tamil Nadu. They told the police that the fall in tourist inflow in Kashmir had forced them to move elsewhere to sell their goods. Last week, the police became suspicious of two beggars from Kashmir, who were found seeking alms in Washermanpet area, and questioned them. Later they were booked under the anti-beggary law and sent to jail. They told the police that they had come down to mobilise money to settle the debts they had incurred back home. Meanwhile, the entire area around the new Assembly complex has come under the police scanner with the deployment of one sub-inspector for 20 lodges and one inspector for 50 lodges.