Strife-torn Kashmir is on the edge after a trucker, who was set ablaze by a mob over the rumours of cow killing in Udhampur, succumbed to injuries in Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital on Sunday.
Anantnag: Family members of 24-years-old Zahid crying after the Kashmiri truck conductor who was injured in petrol bomb attack in Udhampur district dies in Delhis Safdarjung Hospital, at his residence in Batango in Anantnag District of South Kashmir on Sunday. PTI
Zahid Ahmad Bhat had received 70 per cent burns after a petrol bomb was hurled on the Kashmir-bound truck near Shiv Nagar on the Srinagar-Jammu highway on the intervening night of October 9 and 10. Bhat’s associate Showkat Ahmad Dar, who had received 40 per cent burns, is currently under treatment in the Safdarjung Hospital.
The attack had come just days after carcasses of the cows were found in Udhampur district. The district administration and the cow owner later ruled out any foul play and concluded that the bovines had died a natural death.
Zahid’s death is the third reported murder in the last three weeks over beef-related rumours, after Dadri and Saharanpur incidents.
Violent protests rocked several areas of south Kashmir after the death of Zahid reached his ancestral village Batingo in Anantnag district. Hundreds of youth took to streets and blocked the Srinagar-Jammu national highway.
Curfew-like restrictions were imposed in eight police station areas in Kashmir and several separatist leaders put under house in view of a strike called to protest the death of a truck conductor who was injured in Udhampur petrol bomb attack.
The authorities have deployed police and CRPF jawans at various places to check the violent protests.
Hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and JKDFP leader Shabir Ahmad Shah were among several separatists placed under house arrest, the official said.
The restrictions have been imposed as a precautionary measure following violent protests yesterday in many parts of the Valley.
As soon as the news about Zahid’s demise reached his Batengoo village, a spontaneous shutdown was observed yesterday and clashes between protesters and police had broken out there and in adjoining areas of Kulgam as also in several areas of Srinagar.
“There is a complete shutdown in Srinagar. I want to appeal to my Hindu and Muslim brothers to maintain peace in the valley for the development of Kashmir,” a resident of Srinagar told ANI.
The attack on Bhat was seen by many as an after-effect of a beef party hosted by independent legislator Engineer Rashid in Srinagar.
The locals staged a protest over the death of Bhat yesterday, who suffered burn injuries along with the driver, and was shifted Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries on Sunday.
The incident led to an uproar in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly on Saturday, with the opposition seeking a reply from the ruling BJP-PDP government.
Protestors also hurled stones on the security forces prompting them to lob smoke shells and resort to lathi-charge.“Another needless death in the name of beef ban for which the BJP and its affiliates including allies are directly responsible. The honourable PM passed the buck on to Akhilesh Yadav…for Dadri. Who will he blame for Zahid death now?” tweeted Omar Abdullah, former J&K chief minister.
“The so-called rulers are directly responsible for this murder. In their lust for power they have handed over J&K to fanatics,” said Mohommad Yasin Malik, chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).