Dukhtaran Eidgah Rally Foiled

7 June 2009
Greater Kashmir

Srinagar: Hundreds of women on Sunday marched from Jamia Masjid to Eidgah on the call of Dukhtarn-e-Millat chairperson, Asiya Andrabi, to protest against the rape and murder of a teenaged girl and her pregnant sister-in-law in Shopian last week. Police foiled the rally and arrested 16 persons including 14 DeM activists at Pantha Chowk when they were coming to Srinagar to join the DeM protest march. Since early morning today women from different areas of the city began to assemble at Jamia Masjid, and after the midday prayers they marched on the roads of several areas of the old city, shouting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. Scores of young men joined them. Dukhtaran-e-Millat chief Asiya Andrabi led the march. When the procession reached Eidgah near Martyrs’ graveyard, police and paramilitary CRPF troopers fired teargas canisters on the women and beat them up with bamboo batons. Three DeM activists were injured in the police action. The DeM activists also demonstrated in other districts of the Valley after they were stopped from marching towards Srinagar. Women including DeM activists started marching from main town Varmul towards Srinagar in three vehicles, but police stopped them at Pattan. The women then demonstrated at Palhalan. However, police and CRPF troopers put down the demonstration with force. Several activists were beaten with bamboo sticks by the CRPF troopers at Ninglee Sopur. “We had gone to drop some women there but CRPF baton charged us,” said an activist. A bus carrying DeM activists from South Kashmir’s Islamabad district was stopped near Pantha Chowk and all the 14 activists and the 2-member bus crew were arrested by the police. Eye witnesses said the activists were dragged out of the bus and five children accompanying them were left unattended on the main road. The DeM activists staged protests demos in other south Kashmir areas including Shopian and Kulgam. Talking to Greater Kashmir, Asiya Andrabi said she had left her house on Saturday to e evade house arrest and to ensure participation in the march today. “Police were intensely searching for me and they raided several of my friends’ and relatives’ houses. I was hiding before I reached Jamia in the morning,” she said, adding most DeM activists had gone under ground since Saturday to escape arrests. Earlier addressing the gathering, Asiya Andrabi said the political parties must stop playing politics over the dignities of Kashmiri Women. She said the forensic report has exposed the government’s attempts to shield the guilty in Shopian incident. “Omar Abdullah has been repeatedly denying rape and they stand exposed now. This reflects the honesty with which the government wants to punish the guilty,” she said, urging people to continue protests against the incident so that the guilty are punished. She said, “Kashmir is united under the leadership of Geelani and all Hurriyat leadership is with him in stand against violation of human rights.”