Protests In Kokernag Over Alleged Desecration Of Holy Scriptures
9 March 2005
The Times of India
Srinagar: The alleged desecration of holy scriptures at a Kokernag village triggered massive protests in the area. The incident has drawn widespread condemnations here. Reports said troops of 36 RR arrested Gulzar Ahmad, a volunteer with Home Guards yesterday from his home village Kandikot Sagam. His arrest led to protests in the area today and people were pressing for his release. The locals said the army swooped on their village following reports that they are holding protests. The mob was dispersed after a heavy lathi charge and blows of gun butts by forces. Reports said troops entered a Darsgah (a school where religious teaching is imparted) and they allegedly desecrated the holy Quran and other religious books. The scriptures, people said, were torn down and were lying on the floor. The news spread like wild fire in the area and massive protests rocked the village. The women started wailing and the men rented the air with anti-army and pro-freedom slogans. People from adjoining villages also joined the protests. Senior civil and police administration officials today rushed to the area to take stock of the situation. The protestors asked them to take stern action against the accused. Various political parties today condemned the alleged army action. National Conference leaders Dr Mehboob Beig and Mohammad Rafi Mir here said the accused armymen should be given 'severe punishment for the crime'. He said the holy book was desecrated and said this has deply hurt the sentiments of people here. A defence spokesman, meanwhile, denied reports of blasphemy. He said there is no truth in such reports and said such allegations are made at the behest of militants. He said troops of 36 RR have played significant role during the recent crisis caused by snow and claimed such reports are spread to malign their image.