Srinagar’s Press Enclave: a new Jantar Mantar in the Making

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SHAH ABBAS
Srinagar

The Press Enclave in the heart of Srinagar city is fast emerging as the ‘Jantar Mantar’ of Delhi where everybody comes seeking “justice.” Almost every other day, there are protest demonstrations against the government and civil administration which keep journalists and police cops busy.

The state government has permanently stationed police personnel in the area who remain busy throughout the day in making arrests and dispersing the protesters. Even the traffic police and passengers suffer a lot of inconvenience as the protests sometimes spill on the busy Residency Road leading to traffic snarls.

mother of deceased who was killed by her in-laws in Pampore on Thursday

On Thursday, dozens of people from Pampore town protested against local police and administration for hushing up of the alleged double murder of a woman and her unborn child. The protesters were demanding ‘justice’ and asked the government to arrest the accused.

“The media is only interested in covering politics. They are not concerned about the plight of ordinary citizens. That is why we come here to register our protest,” Muhammad Maqbool, a protestor said.

As soon as the protesters from Pampore left the area, the employees belonging to Urban Local Bodies departments gathered in hundreds and started shouting slogans like “We want justice.” The police swung into action and dispersed the protesters by arresting their leaders.

In the meantime, dozens of people came with banners in their hands and started demanding “justice.” These people were accusing a private travel agency “Alhajeej” of cheating them in the name of Haj.

Minutes after the protest against “Alhajeej” ended, another group of protesters sought “justice.” This group was accusing a private tour and travel operator service “Albalaagh” of cheating.

“We face a lot of trouble throughout the day in dispersing the protesters. We assure them that their demands will be forwarded to the relevant quarters. In some cases, we make arrests as well,” a policeman deployed in the press enclave said.

employees while protesting in press enclave

The police itself want the civil administration to identify a suitable place where people can protest without troubling anybody. “There are identified places to hold such protests. There is Jantar Mantar in Delhi. In the states like Jharkhand, there are special places where people assemble and register their protest. Why can’t we have such a place,” a police officer said on the condition of anonymity.

Traffic police personal also find it very hard to maintain the traffic on the busy Residency Road. “We often close the Residency Road for traffic because of protest demonstrations in the area which affects the flow of traffic,” a traffic police official said.

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A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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