5 killed, 60 injured in grenade attack on Bareilvi cleric
10 November 2006
The Daily Excelsior
From Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Srinagar: Sectarian tension has gripped the ideologically split Tahab village in Pulwama district where a terrorist has left 5 youngsters dead and 60 others wounded in a grenade attack on prominent Bareilvi cleric Maulana Abdur Rasheed Dawoodi in the afternoon today. Even after the fatal grenade blast, people have captured a youth, allegedly responsible for throwing the grenade, handed him over to authorities and shouted slogans against the followers of a rival sect. Border Security Force (BSF) has, however, sealed the village and provided protection to the followers of Devbandi school of thought and Jamaat- e-Islami, believed to be aligned to the latter. Eyewitnesses told the EXCELSIOR that after taking his lunch at the residence of a National Conference sympathiser and Bareilvi activist, Gulzar Ahmed Ganai, famous propounder of Bareilvi school of thought and patron of religious organisation Sautul Aauliya, Maulana Abdur Rasheed Dawoodi (of Frisal, Kulgam), proceeded to Jamia Masjid at Bongam in Tahab to perform his Friday afternoon prayers. A large number of his followers were present in the village for participation in a religious congregation and two to three hundred of them were following the cleric while shouting religious slogans. No sooner did the 40-year-old Dawoodi reach the main entrance of the mosque at 1320 hrs than a youth lobbed a hand grenade in his direction. The grenade exploded close to the main target Dawoodi, causing splinter injuries to him and 65 of his followers. Three of the critically wounded youngsters died on the spot and two more later succumbed to injuries either on way to Srinagar or at hospital. Gulzar Ahmed Ganai's 22-year-old brother, Nisar Ahmed Ganai, 13-year-old daughter Sheeraza and 13-year-old nephew Omar Maqbool (class 6th student) were among the dead. Class 9th student Saleema Jan D-o Abdul Aziz Shah and Bisma Jan D-o Bashir Ahmed Ganai, who also died in the explosion, were Gulzar Ganai's close relatives. Sources said that over a dozen of the injured were also Ganai's relatives. Residents dug six tombs but were slightly relieved to learn that the death of a 6-year-old girl Shazia was just a rumour. Shazia was battling for life at SKIMS late tonight. DIG south Kashmir, Hemant Kumar Lohia, confirmed 5 as dead and 30 to 35 others injured. He said that over a dozen of the injured had been discharged from different hospitals in Pulwama and Srinagar while three to four persons were reportedly critical. The injured, according to officials, included 15 women, mostly young girls. They said that Maulana Dawoodi was critically injured but was responding to treatment at a Srinagar hospital. Civilian sources insisted that in all 5 persons died and 60 others sustained injuries. They said that most of the people in Tahab believed that today's grenade attack was the handiwork of 'those who believe in bloodshed and have no faith in moderate Islam and shrines'. Since this kind of an ideology is widely attributed to the followers of Devbandi school of thought and also a section of Jamaat- e-Islami, anger was obviously directed against them both. Jamaat followers who constitute 40% of the population in Tahab had suffered enormously when their houses and orchards were destroyed by frenzied mobs after the execution of the former Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in General Zia-ul-Haq's military regime in 1979. Sources said that an outraged mob shouted slogans against the followers of Devbandi sect and other 'non-believers' and began marching towards the rival concentration with the open vengeance of torching houses. However, BSF moved quickly from two of its camps in the locality and provided timely protection to the potential targets of the mob. Later, Army and Police also moved in and were looking for the youth who had been captured by the people and held captive at an unknown house. It was late this evening that the people handed over a 22-year-old youth, namely Ghulam Nabi Mir alias Shora S-o Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Mir R-o Littar, Pulwama, to troops of Rashtriya Rifle 55 Bn with the complaint that he was a Hizbul Mujahideen militant and, according to them, had thrown the grenade. Shora is reportedly the nephew of prominent Hizbul Mujahideen militant Ashfaq of Zasu, Wachi. DC Pulwama, Meraj-ud-din Kakroo, confirmed that the youth was handed over to RR 55 Bn by the people who claimed to have captured him after lobbing the grenade. He told the EXCELSIOR late tonight that Shora had been put to sustained interrogation at JIC Pulwama jointly by Army and Police and his involvement or otherwise in the grenade blast would become clear by tomorrow. Inquiries revealed that a September 16, 2006, clash between the followers of Bareilvi and Devbandi sects of Muslims at Pinglena was the genesis of today's grenade attack on Maulana Dawoodi at Tahab today. Earlier this year, another Bareilvi cleric Maulana Ghulam Rasool Hami and his organisation 'Dawat-e-Islamia' had been attacked by rival group in Ganderbal area. Meanwhile, most of the political parties, including Jamaat-e-Islami and Hizbul Mujahideen outfit, have condemned today's blast at Tahab and interpreted it as a 'sinister gameplan to divide the Muslims on sectarian and ideological lines'. NC, PDP, CPM and other groups have also condemned it and demanded punishment to the saboteurs. Meanwhile, two CRPF personnel and three civilians sustained injuries when suspected militants lobbed a hand grenade at Hari Singh High Street in the capital city today. Reports from Baramulla said that militants fired upon a civilian Tata Sumo, carrying troops in Rafiabad area, and left its driver critically injured this evening.