ZANSKAR TENSE AFTER CLASHES

Minority Community Alleges Harassment

ABID BASHIR

Srinagar, Oct 24: Members of the minority community in Zanskar area of Kargil district have alleged harassment after communal clashes in the area, forcing the authorities to clamp down curfew to prevent further tension.
Three people including a women and Tehsildar have got injured in the clashes so far. Locals from Zanskar said that situation took an ugly turn on Tuesday afternoon when some members from the majority community attacked the members of the minority community.
Locals told Greater Kashmir that over the past few months over a dozen people have changed their religion and the move has not gone down well with some members of the majority community in the area.
“A group of irate youth suddenly surfaced in Zanskar town and started beating people,” said Najeeb Sheerazi, a local, who runs a shop in the town. He said soon after the attack, many youth from minority community retaliated leading to a major scuffle.
“Many youth got injured in the melee,” Sheerazi said. “Soon after the incident, the administration clamped down curfew in the area which is on for the second consecutive day.”
Asked whether the youth who had changed their religion were forced to convert, Sheerazi said all the youth, along with their family members, announced in the local Masjid that they were not forced and that they were impressed by the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) which became the reason for them to embrace Islam.
A senior police officer posted in Zanskar said, “The clashes took place between two communities. We have launched a manhunt to nab the youth who triggered the clash. We have registered a case and investigations have been started.” The police officer said they were hopeful to locate the youth who had attacked the members of minority community.
He said curfew has been imposed in the area to maintain peace. “We will monitor the situation on Thursday and accordingly announce relaxation in the curfew. Keeping in view the festival of Eid, we need to relax the curfew,” the officer said. “We have got additional reinforcement from Srinagar to help us maintain peace.”
Locals said some youth from the majority community cut the local telephone cables and even damaged the water supply lines at a few places. “Many phones are not working in some areas due to damaged lines,” said another local, Khateeb Hussain over landline phone. He said since those who have accepted Islam don’t want to leave their property, some members from the majority community want to grab their houses and other items on the pretext that they can’t be the legal heirs of their property owing to conversion.
He said that almost all mobile phone services have been disconnected by the authorities to prevent further trouble.
DIG Central Kashmir, Syed Afadul Mujtaba, said the issue was not something new. “It is the outcome of conversion controversy. Some people who have changed their religion don’t want to leave their properties,” he said. “The area has only 700 Muslims and over 29000 Buddhist population. Some youth resorted to stone pelting, but the situation is totally under control at present,” he said, adding that curfew would only be relaxed if situation remains peaceful.
Police sources said mobile phones have been disconnected so that rumour mongers could be prevented from spreading wrong rumours about communal clashes. “As and when the situation returns to the normal, the services will be restored,” they said.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Asgar Samoon, said some four to five families had changed their religion voluntarily in Zanskar. “I have directed the Deputy Commissioner Kargil to monitor the situation. I have also directed the DC to arrest the miscreants without any delay. Besides, additional reinforcements have already been sent to the area and those injured are being treated in Srinagar hospitals,” he said.
Samoon said curfew would only be lifted if area remains peaceful. “At present, there is no report of any untoward incident.”
Meanwhile, Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani has said it was unfortunate that some members of majority community have carried out attacks on the minority community in Zanskar. “It is unfortunate the administration has maintained a criminal silence over the issue. If it (administration) continues to act as a mute spectator, the anger will spill over to other regions as well,” Geelani said.
He said J&K has always been popular for maintaining communal harmony but of late in Ladakh and Jammu regions, under a “well planned conspiracy” some vested interests are “sowing the seeds of communal hatred”. The aged separatist asked the Government to ensure safety of life and property of Zanskar Muslims.
JKLF has strongly condemned the ‘atrocities being committed on the members of minority community in Zanskar. “We warn the rulers that if they fail to protect minority community in Zanskar, the responsibility of the consequences will only be theirs,” a JKLF spokesman said.

Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Oct 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Oct 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 25 Oct 2012 00:00:00 IST




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