August 2001 News

Two priests beheaded, 5 of family killed in J&K

28 August 2001
The Hindustan Times

Jammu: AN INDEFINITE curfew was clamped in Surankote and Poonch towns in the Poonch district following the beheading of two Hindu priests and the massacre of five members of a Muslim family. Following reports of the killings people took to streets raising slogans against militants and the government blaming them for the incidents. Militants beheaded two priests -Mahant Narotam Dass and Mahant Devi Dass - in a Kali temple in Dundak village near Surankote last night. After beheading the priests the militants threw their severed heads by the side of the adjacent road, the police said. Locals discovered the heads and reported the matter to the police. This is the first time that militants in Jammu and Kashmir have abducted priests from a temple and later killed them. Reports said that it was about 12.30 last night when the militants knocked on the doors of the temple. When the priests did not open the door, the militants broke into the temple. The two priests were taken some distance away and beheaded. Mahant Narotam Dass was the priest of the Kali temple. Mahant Devi Dass had come to stay with him for a few days. He was the priest of the Lakshmi Narayan temple in Sunderbani in Rajouri district. The incident created tension in the towns as people took to the streets, demanding stern action against the killers and describing the killings as being part of the grand design of the militants to push forward their Islamisation agenda in the state. With the situation appearing to go out of control the authorities clamped a curfew. But people defied the curfew and continued to agitate. Paramilitary forces were called in to bring the situation under control. In another incident, militants killed five members of a family, including two women and two infants. The police said militants killed the family members of Basharat Shah, a storekeeper in the Food and Supplies Department, after he had refused to give rations to militants in Marhot village near Surankote. The militants went to his home and shot dead his father Ghulam Shah, mother Azra Bee, wife Zabina Akhtar and two children - Nazarat (3) and Nazakat (1). Basharat Shah was not at home when the militants attacked. In another incident, militants killed two more civilians - Mohd Rashid and Mushtaq Shah.


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