From Stones To Grenades25 June 2011
The Telegraph (Kolkata)
Srinagar: The stones have stopped flying on the Valley streets but police fear grenades could be hurled soon. The reason - some youths who pelted the police with stones may have graduated to the ranks of grenade-throwers in militant outfits. Jammu and Kashmir police have arrested Tanveer Ahmad Sheru, a Lashkar-e-Toiba militant, for yesterday’s grenade attack on a police station in Sopore, which left five civilians and a head constable injured. Sopore police chief Altaf Khan said Tanveer was arrested last year for attacking security forces with stones. “He was subsequently released,” Khan said. A police officer in Srinagar said Tanveer’s was not an isolated case. “There have been some other cases too where stone throwers were found to have joined militant ranks,” he said. “But it would be wrong to suggest that it is a widespread phenomenon.” Kashmir has witnessed three massive agitations in the last three years with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets. Last year’s unrest lasted from June to October but the security forces have since been able to put a check on stone throwing. Police sources said after last year’s unrest - sparked by a boy’s death when a police tear gas canister hit him - had fizzled out, some youth joined militant outfits. “A Lashkar commander, Sajad, had set up a module in Srinagar (late last year) and more than a dozen youths, mostly those who were involved in stone throwing, joined it,” the police source said. “Several more youths have gone missing (mostly in Sopore). They are also believed to have joined militant groups.” In January last year, two suicide attackers struck at the heart of Srinagar and engaged security forces in a 22-hour gunfight before being shot dead. One of the fidayeens was Sopore youth Manzoor Ahmad Bhat, who had participated in the 2008 Amarnath land agitation. The police blame militants for backing the stone throwers, though many in Kashmir dismiss such claims because they believe the protests were spontaneous and voluntary. Last year’s unrest left 115 dead and thousands injured in firing by the security forces.