Activists of the BJP and other right-wing groups Monday staged a protest here to press for the release of two youths who were picked up by police for their alleged involvement in a recent stone pelting incident, officials said.
The youths, a barbar and an auto-rickshaw driver, were arrested by police Monday afternoon after their involvement was established in connection with the May 16 violence in the communally sensitive town following the murder of Naeem Ahmad Shah, a cattle trader, in a firing incident, they said.
Following the arrest of the duo, the local BJP unit, along with the RSS and the VHP, called for a protest at Laxmi Narayan chowk after its attempt to secure their release failed.
The shopkeepers, belonging to a particular community, closed down their establishments at 6 pm and joined the protest in support of the demand for the release of the arrested youths, the officials said.
Bhaderwah town was rocked by violent protests on May 16 following the mysterious killing of Shah at Kachi Nalthi village. Curfew remained in force in the town for five days, while mobile internet services were restored after nine days last week.
The district administration had refuted reports that "cow vigilantism" was the reason behind the killing of Shah and said some people were trying to give a communal colour to the incident.
While eight persons were arrested in connection with the murder, nearly a dozen youth belonging to the majority community were also arrested for their alleged involvement in stone pelting and causing damage to dozens of vehicles.
The officials said extra columns of the CRPF and police were deployed in the town as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order.
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