Kashmir is observing a complete shutdown against the killing of Zahid Ahmad Bhat, 20, who succumbed to injuries yesterday at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital. Reports say that despite imposing curfew, fresh protests erupted in South Kashmir’s Botengo village just after the funeral of Zahid, who was attacked in Udhampur over an alleged cow slaughter incident. Three cow carcasses were found in Chenani village, which had sparked communal tensions in the region. However, according to doctors, the cows had died due to poisoning.
Pro-Pakistan and anti-India, anti-BJP and PDP slogans were raised during the funeral procession of Zahid in which hundreds of people participated. A Pakistani flag was also waved by protesters.
As the funeral was over, people protested in Zahid’s ancestral village and violent clashes erupted between police and protesters. Despite rain, protesters showed resistance and involved in battles with police.
Dozens of tear gas shells and pepper gas were fired to disperse the stone throwers. The strike call is being supported by both factions of Hurriyat Conference, including the traders, to express their anger against this killing. State government has imposed curfew in several parts of South Kashmir including Botengo, Anantag and Pulwama. Heavy security arrangements of police, paramilitary forces and army have been placed along the Srinagar-Jammu highway.
Police stopped the movement of trucks, especially those from outside the Valley as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward incident.
Curfew has also been imposed in old city while police have erected the barricades on roads leading to Srinagar and South Kashmir.
Separatists blamed the state and centre responsible for Zahid’s death. Hurriyat Confernce Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani alleged that Kashmiris are “being killed by design”. Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed blamed hate politics and intolerance as reasons behind the death of Zahid. He said that such incidents pose a grave challenge to secular fabric of the nation. Zahid’s village Botengo is less than 2 km from Sayeed’s constituency. Assuring that people involved in the murder will not be spared at any cost, Saeed said, “I have no words to condemn the dastardly act, which consumed the life of a poor and innocent young boy.” The state Cabinet which met today passed a unanimous resolution moved by the Chief Minister expressing grief and shock over the death of Zahid. A two-minute silence was also observed for the departed soul.
The Cabinet approved an ex gratia relief of Rs.5 lakh for Zahid and Rs.2 lakh for Showkat Ahmad Dar, who was also attacked during the Udhampur attack. He is undergoing treatment in the Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi. Government jobs have been offered to the next of kin of the two.
The government assured that the investigation will be fast-tracked so that those found guilty of this heinous crime are not allowed to go unpunished under any circumstance.
Asserting that peace process will be further strengthened, the Cabinet agreed in one voice to defeat the conspiracy hatched by certain people to derail the agenda of peace and reconciliation of the coalition government.