Fear and resentment pervade North Kashmir’s Palhalan town, which has been under relentless curfew for the past 31 days possibly because of the frequency and ferocity of protests witnessed here.
The HT team, which sneaked into the town on Thursday, found a heavy deployment of police and army regulating and monitoring the movement of people.
The entry into the town is barricaded with police vehicles. Selective movement has been allowed for the past 4-5 days —but curfew has been in place nonetheless and the populace of 8,000 has been under siege. All shops and small markets near the entry into Palhalan have been closed.
“My exams will start from October 22 but I am not able to study. Police vehicles fitted with hooters scare us when they make their rounds and cops shout at people. I fear being young because many young boys were killed in my area,” said Omar Ahmad, class 8 student of Saint Joseph’s School, Baramulla, 30 km away.
Six persons have died in violent protests during the past four months in Ahmad’s locality. “We have booked several motivators in the area. I want to make it clear that restrictions have been eased for the past 5-6 days,” Baramulla Senior Superintendent of Police Mansoor Untoo told HT.
The police drive has forced several youths to flee the town. “Students are on the run to escape police raids. Many have not been able to attend classes and their examination from the Palhalan area,” said Ghulam Muhammad Mir, a teacher at Palhalan Higher Secondary School, which is functioning normally since September 27 with thin attendance of students.