Imam's Killing Triggers Massive Protests25 April 2011
Baramulla: Killing of an Imam (priest) by unidentified persons triggered protests and clashes at Rafiabad here in north Kashmir on Monday. At least four persons were injured when police and paramilitary CRPF men resorted to baton charge and fired teargas shells to quell protesters. Pertinently, Muhammad Ashraf Lone of Chatipora, Rafiabad was shot dead by unidentified gunmen at Hail-Jageer in Kreeri on Sunday evening. Ashraf was a teacher at a local Madrassa and an Imam of a Masjid in Kreeri . Pall of gloom descended over Chatipora village this morning as soon as Lone’s body reached there. Hundreds of people assembled outside his residence and took out a massive procession. Mourners raising pro-freedom slogans were demanding stern punishment for the killers. “As protesters were marching towards Rafiabad-Baramulla Road a huge contingent of police and CRPF men appeared on the spot and resorted to baton charge and tear gas shelling. In the police action at least four persons were injured,” witnesses said. “His death has shattered our entire family. He has got four sisters and one of the sisters is handicapped. His own family comprises two kids and a wife” said Abdul Rashid Lone, father of the deceased youth. GKNN ADDS FROM SRINAGAR GEELANI BLAMES FORCES, DEMANDS IMPARTIAL PROBE The Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Shah Geelani condemned the killing Muhammad Ashraf Lone and demanded an independent probe into it. In a statement, Geelani came down heavily on the police and paramilitary CRPF men for using disproportionate force to disperse the peaceful protesters. “The youth was killed near a forces camp. After hearing the gunshots, when the locals rushed to the spot they found soldiers around the body. Besides being a Hafeeza-Quran, the deceased was an Imam at Kreeri Masjid and a supporter of the ongoing movement. All the revelations made so far indicate direct involvement of the forces in the killing. There is no reason to believe that somebody else other than the force personnel are involved in his killing,” Geelani said. He alleged that in the aftermath of 2010 unrest, force personnel are at the helm of affairs in the Valley particularly in rural areas. “Forces are acting in such a way as if they are fighting militants. The killing of Muhammad Ashraf is part of a trend to target the religious scholars. The State Government and its agencies have lost the credibility of probing such cases. I demand an impartial and independent inquiry into the killing,” he added. JKLF CONDEMNS Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front has strongly condemned Lone’s killing. “On the one hand, the innocent Islamic scholar was slain mercilessly and on the other, the police lathi- charged and fired tear-smoke shells on mourners, who were peacefully protesting against the killing of the religious scholar and a preacher,” said a JKLF spokesman in a statement. Meanwhile, the JKLF spokesman paid glowing tributes to the Muhammad Yaseen alias Bilal Dhobi on his death anniversary. He described his sacrifice a great asset.