New Delhi: A day after a teenaged trucker — attacked in Udhampur on October 9 over cow slaughter rumours — died at a Delhi hospital, Kashmir shut down, while J&K MLA Abdul Rashid’s face was blackened with ink in the national capital.
Rashid, who was in Delhi to brief the media on the attack on two truckers, had dubbed the incident as “Dadri 4”, a reference to September 28 attack on a man on Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri over rumours of cow slaughter and consumption. He was attacked by activists allegedly belonging to a right-wing organisation.
“People talk of Talibanisation of Pakistan; look what is happening in India…They are mentally sick. I want the whole world to see how these people are trying to muzzle the voice of Kashmiris,” said the independent MLA who was recently thrashed by BJP MLAs inside the J&K Assembly for hosting a party where he reportedly served beef at the government circuit house.
On the beef controversy, he said people had the right to eat. “We also consider cow as the mother cow. But everybody has the right to eat what he wants to…I do not eat beef, mutton or chicken. I hosted the party as a mark of protest to tell the authorities that they should not interfere with anyone’s religion.”
He said just as the UP government was held responsible for the Dadri lynching, the BJP-PDP government in J&K must also be held accountable. He alleged that kingpin of the Udhampur attack Prahlad Singh was still at large. Two persons have been detained for attacking Rashid.
Meanwhile, Kashmir valley observed shutdown on Monday to protest the death of 18-year-old Zahid Rasool Bhat, who was the conductor of the truck that was attacked with a petrol bomb.
Bhat was buried at his native village in south Kashmir amid demonstrations in the area as protesters clashed with the police.
The state Cabinet today passed a resolution moved by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to express “deep shock and grief” over Bhat’s death and observed two-minute silence. The Cabinet also approved Rs 5 lakh to the next of his kin.
The shutdown, which was observed in all districts of Kashmir, paralysed the public transport as roads were deserted and all shops were closed. “Traffic along the highway connecting Srinagar with Jammu also remained suspended due to restrictions in south Kashmir. Rail services were also halted,” an official of the state traffic department said.
The shutdown was also observed in Doda and Kishtwar districts of Jammu division. Schools and universities in Kashmir had also called off examinations that were scheduled for today, while the convocation of the Islamic University of Science and Technology was also postponed.
The administration imposed restrictions in several parts of the region, including in Srinagar’s old city neighbourhoods, to maintain law and order. Heavy police and paramilitary force was deployed in the area.
Nine persons have been arrested so far in connection with the attack on Bhat and truck driver Showkat Ahmad Dar. They have been booked under the Public Safety Act and charged with murder.