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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Jamaat worker killed in Valley’s first sectarian bloodshed

NC goons attacked our men at Namaaz in a mosque: JI spokesman

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 6: A 20-year-old student has died and three others sustained injuries in the Valley’s first sectarian bloodshed that happened between the ruling National Conference (NC) and the pro-Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami workers in Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s Assembly constituency of Ganderbal today.

Informed sources told Early Times that Muslims belonging to conflicting schools of thought have been developing differences with each other over a mosque and volume of its public address system at Sindhbal village in Ganderbal since earlier this year. The situation took an ugly turn today when the two groups clashed violently on occasion of the Zohar (afternoon) congregational prayers this afternoon.

During the course of clashes, at least six persons sustained injuries. They were rushed to District Hospital Ganderbal for medical treatment. Police swooped on the warring factions and restored peace. However, one of the critically injured, namely Shabir Ahmad Bhat s/o Ghulam Nabi Bhat (20), who was reportedly a B Sc first year student, was referred to SKIMS, Soura. He succumbed to injuries en route.

Arrival of the dead body ignited the skirmishes afresh and people of the warring groups began attacking and ransacking each other’s houses and properties. Again, reinforcement rushed to the village and Police succeeded in restoring calm after a great deal of trouble. Reports awaiting official confirmation said that on the District Magistrate’s orders, Police enforced undeclared curfew and forced people of both groups to stay indoors. Reports said that DC Ganderbal, Showkat Ahmad Mir, and SP Ganderbal, Shahid Meraj, visited the disturbed village and asked authorities to maintain control over the situation and ensure safety of all lives and properties.

SP Ganderbal, Shahid Meraj Rather, told Early Times that, for the last few months, there have been differences in the village between the people who have reverence and faith for shrines and saints and those who have not. He said that the quiescent skirmishes turned violent today when people of both groups quarreled with each other on the space of Hamam. (Other reports said that the clash triggered off over the volume of the PAS at the mosque as one group insisted it be low and another high). SP said that four persons sustained injuries and they were all rushed to hospital. He said that one of them, namely Shabir Ahmad Bhat, died on way to SKIMS.

SP Ganderbal said that Police had immediately registered a matter of murder and arson during the group clash under FIR No: 24 of 2012 under section 302 RPC. He said that Police swung into action and restored calm while restricting movement of the residents. However, the funeral rites of the youth killed in the clash were performed smoothly. He said that Police would professionally investigate the matter and nobody involved in the killing would be spared. He said that all the accused would be arrested by tomorrow and interrogated for their role in the bloody clash.

SP Ganderbal said that according to the information available with him, it was a sectarian clash with no political overtones. He said that political affiliation of the warring groups could be just a coincidence.

However, spokesman of Jamaat-e-Islami, J&K, Advocate Zahid Ali, insisted in his statement that it was a “matter of state terrorism”. According to him, a group of 20 attackers, all belonging to the ruling National Conference and led by the NC’s local Sarpanch Mohammad Subhan Wani, swooped on the Jamaat followers and left a number of them wounded on occasion of Zohar prayers at the village mosque. He said that two of the critically injured, namely Shabir Ahmad Bhat and Noor Ahmad Shah, who was Naazim-e-Halqa of Jamaat-e-Islami in the village, were referred to a Srinagar hospital where Shabir Ahmad Bhat died.

Advocate Zahid alleged that the attack of ruling NC workers on the Jamaat followers at a mosque during the holy month of Ramzan was part of a “deep-rooted conspiracy” against the religious organisation. J&K head (Amir) of Jamaat-e-Islami Sheikh Ghulam Hassan and other leaders of the organisation have also condemned today’s gory incident in Ganderbal and held the state government and the ruling NC responsible for it.

NC’s spokesman Tanvir Sadiq could be reached for his reaction over telephone. However, he maintained that he had no knowledge of the incident in question. “I will call you back as soon as I get facts from Ganderbal”, Tanvir said but did not call back till filing of this report. There was no official press release on the incident from Zonal Police Headquarters either.

NC’s Kashmir Province Vice President, Sheikh Ghulam Ahmad Saloora, who himself happens to be a resident of Ganderbal, claimed that it was a “clash between the believers and non-believers of shrines and saints”.

“National Conference as organisation has no role in it”, Saloora asserted. He explained that 90% of the population in Sindhbal was supporter of the NC and believer in saints and shrines, contrary to the practice and belief of 10% of Jamaat-e-Islami followers. He said that the residents had lately replaced the Imam of the mosque who was “pro-Jamaat” and they had begun loud Darood Khwani since beginning of the holy month of Ramzan. This, according to him, was objected to by the Jamaat followers and the difference of opinion culminated into a clash “between aitiqadis and non-aitiqadis” in which a youth died and few others sustained injuries.

With the differences between the two schools of thought spiraling in several areas of Kashmir valley in the last couple of years, this is for the first time that a death has taken place in a sectarian clash.


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