Reasi town observed a complete shutdown on Tuesday following a call by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal, transporters and trade organizations to protest “biased” police action following an attack on a nomadic family by a 200-strong mob last week.
Police in Reasi, 78 km from Jammu, had arrested 11 people after a nomadic family was attacked for allegedly smuggling cattle. Those arrested were later released on bail.
Demanding a fair probe and revocation of FIR against the 11 accused, protestors burnt tyres on all the connecting roads in the town and shouted slogans against the police and civil administration, said a local resident.
The administration had deployed adequate police and CRPF personnel in and around the strategic town. The army, which has a considerable presence in the area, has been kept on a stand-by.
By afternoon, the administration conceded one major demand of the protesters.
Raghav Kesar, state general secretary of ABVP said, “We demand impartial investigations, which are possible only after the suspension of SSP Reasi (Tahir Sajjad Bhat) and deputy SP (Mujeeb-ur-Rehman). Police have implicated innocent persons in the FIR,” he alleged.
Kesar also claimed that during meeting of a delegation with the Reasi deputy commissioner Ravinder Kumar on Tuesday afternoon, the latter agreed on a blanket ban on transportation of bovines in vehicles during night.
“The DC also agreed upon constituting village level committees to check bovine smuggling. However, he has asked us to give him a memorandum seeking revocation of FIR and suspension of the SSP and Dy SP,” said Kesar.
Reasi DC Ravinder Kumar said that apart from committees and ban on transportation in vehicles during night, he has also made it mandatory to record entries of animals at various police check points on the highways to check cattle smuggling.
“As far as revocation of FIR and suspension of SSP and Dy SP are concerned, I have asked the delegation to give me a memorandum that will be submitted to the higher ups for their consideration,” he added.
Reasi SSP Tahir Sajjad Bhat and DSP Mujeeb-ur-Rehaman have been accused of biased investigations by the protestors.
Earlier, SSP Bhat told the HT that the nomad family refused to lodge written complaint with police after claiming that their 10-year-old child had gone missing on the night of attack.
“Had their 10-year old been missing, how could have they proceeded on their journey? It seemed that the child either could have caught up with a herd, which had passed Reasi stretch or is with the family. The entire thing (missing) seemed to be a pressure tactics,” he said.