Kashmir, Chenab Valley Shut Against Zahid's Killing

19 October 2015
Greater Kashmir
Abid Bashir

Srinagar: Kashmir Valley and several areas of Chenab Valley including Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar Monday observed a complete shutdown against the killing of 18-year-old Zahid Rasool Bhat of south Kashmir's Batengoo village in a murderous assault by fanatics in Shiv Nagar area of Udhampur district on October 9. All commercial establishments and educational institutions in these places remained closed while traffic was completely off the roads. Government offices witnessed very thin attendance of employees. The J&K government had put in place curfew-like restrictions in old Srinagar areas falling under six police stations and also in Maisuma in uptown Srinagar to prevent protests against Zahid's killing. Most of the separatist leaders were put under house arrest to prevent them from reaching Zahid's native village Batengoo in South Kashmir's Anantnag district to join his funeral prayers. The call for shutdown was given by all separatist organizations and Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA)-an amalgam of various trade bodies-as a mark of protest against the killing of Zahid. In old Srinagar, police had placed barbed wire on main roads while heavy contingent of police and paramilitary forces, manned the streets. 'It was curfew in old Srinagar,' said Abdus Samad Mir, a resident of Rajouri Kadal. 'The entire downtown was turned into a ghost place.' Senior separatist leaders were either placed under house arrest or taken into 'preventive custody.' They included Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani, JKLF Chief Muhammad Yasin Malik, senior separatist leaders Shabir Ahmed Shah, Nayeem Khan, Javaid Mir, Showkat Bakshi, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Ayaz Akbar, Muhktar Waza and others. All separatist organisations thanked people for observing the shutdown. A police spokesman here said there were no reports of any stone-pelting incidents from any part of Srinagar. Meanwhile, complete shutdown was observed in other districts of Kashmir including Baramulla, Kupwara in north Kashmir, Ananatnag (Islamabad) and Pulwama in South Kashmir. Massive protests and clashes rocked Batengoo, the native village of Zahid Rasool Bhat, after he was laid to rest at his ancestral graveyard. Reports of complete shutdown also poured in from Central Kashmir's Budgam and Ganderbal districts. On the call of Anjuman Islamia Doda, thousands of people staged protests in Doda town, Kishtwar and Banihal in Chenab Valley against the killing of Zahid. Despite rains, people from different walks of life hit the streets in Doda, Banihal and Kishtwar and strongly denounced the killing of the Kashmir youth. Shouting anti-government slogans and carrying placards which read 'May Allah accept martyrdom of Zahid; Hang killers of Zahid; Ban RSS; Save humanity, and stop saffron terrorism', the protesters demanded stern action against the violent mob that attacked Zahid and his colleagues with petrol bombs in Shiv Nagar area of Udhampur. While Zahid succumbed to his injuries yesterday, his colleague Showket is undergoing treatment for grievous burn injuries at New Delhi's Safderjung hospital. Another colleague Rameez managed to escape the assault. Speaking during a protest rally, President Anjuman Islamia Doda, Advocate Hassan Babar strongly condemned the killing of Zahid Rasool Bhat. 'The killing of this innocent youth is unfortunate and condemnable and the perpetrators of such a violent and murderous attack must be punished so that such ghastly incidents don't take place in future,' he said. All shops and educational institutions remained closed while traffic was off the roads in Doda, Kisthwar and Banihal, reports said. In Banihal, angry protesters burnt tyres on Srinagar-Jammu highway to register their anger against the killing of Zahid. Protests and bandh was also observed in Thathri, Gandoh, Kishtwar, Gool, Bhaderwah and other major parts of the Chenab Valley region. The Jammu Srinagar Highway and Mughal Road which connects the Valley with Poonch, remained closed for traffic as a precautionary measure following Zahid's death, an official said. The train service from Banihal to Baramulla was also suspended due to blockade of its tracks by protesters this morning, an official said. Meanwhile, Ulema in Rajouri slammed the PDP-BJP government for 'failing to protect innocent people of the state.' A local news agency said the Ulema met under the chairmanship of Khateeb of Jamia Masjid Rajouri, Moulana Ghulam Rasool, and condemned the brutal killing of Zahid Rasool by 'goons of RSS ,VHP' in Udhampur on October 9.