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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

Arson attempt on fruit truck in Jammu and Kashmir

Some unidentified men appeared near the fruit market in Sopore and torched the apple boxes when they were being loaded, local residents said.

india Updated: Oct 19, 2019 04:35 IST
Mir  Ehsan
Mir Ehsan
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
A driver covers a supply truck loaded with apples on a highway near Qazigund in Anantnag district on October 17.
A driver covers a supply truck loaded with apples on a highway near Qazigund in Anantnag district on October 17.(Reuters file)
         

Two days after attacking a pair of fruit traders from Punjab in south Kashmir, killing one and critically injuring the other, unidentified arsonists tried to set apple boxes that were being loaded onto a truck in north Kashmir’s Sopore town on fire on Friday . The police said the attempt was foiled.

Some unidentified men appeared near the fruit market in Sopore and torched the apple boxes when they were being loaded, local residents said .They rebuked the fruit growers and the workers who were loading the boxes. The police and army troops who arrived on the scene soon after saved the fruit and the truck from damage.

“Some people tried to set the fruit which was being loaded in a truck on fire but due to the timely action the attempt was foiled,’’ Sopore’s superintendent of police Javid Iqbal told Hindustan Times.

It was the latest in a string of attacks targeting the fruit industry, one of Kashmir’s economic mainstays, which have spread a sense of panic among people in the business. Horticulture is estimated to earn revenue of Rs.8,000 crore a year for Jammu and Kashmir.

On Monday, gunmen shot dead a truck driver, Sharif Khan from Rajasthan, at Shirmal village in Shopian when he was loading apples onto his truck. Two days later, militants attacked two fruit traders from Punjab at Trenz village in Shopian. In the attack, trader Charanjit Singh died and another, Sanjay Kumar, was critically injured.

Police claimed to have identified the group behind both the attacks in Shopian. Jammu and Kashmir’s director general of police Dilbag Singh chaired a high-level meeting in Shopian on Thursday and told security forces to safeguard fruit traders and truckers in south Kashmir.

The police have already released pictures of two local militants, identified as Rayees Magray and Naveed Babu, holding them responsible for both these attacks.

In September, militants barged into the house of a prominent fruit trader in Dangerpora in Sopore and opened gunfire, leaving four people injured. Later, the police claimed that a militant who was involved in the attack was killed in an encounter on the outskirts of the town.

The police, meanwhile, asked non-local truck drivers not to venture into the villages to load fruit for transport, asking them instead to do so from designated spots which will be protected by security forces. As the fruit markets are closed, many drivers have ventured deep into the interiors to pick up boxes of apples for transport.

After the attacks, police and the army have stepped up patrolling in south Kashmir villages, especially in the places where apples are being harvested. October is considered the peak month for the fruit trade in Kashmir.