By Haroon Reshi
Srinagar: Kashmiri traders have demanded a time-bound inquiry by an independent and reliable agency into the incidents of alleged molestation of a girl student by a soldier in Handwara and subsequent killing of five people, including a woman, by army and police during the past six days.
At a press conference, several executive members of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry also asked the Peoples Democratic Party to part ways with BJP if the coalition government was unable to stop government forces from killing Kashmiris.
Calling for withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives armed forces sweeping powers, the KCCI also demanded that an FIR should be filed against those behind the murders (killing of five people) in Kupwara district during the past week.
Muhammad Yasin Khan, President of Kashmir Traders and Manufactures Federation, said that a seven-member team representing various traders’ organisations went to Handwara and Kupwara to assess the situation in these areas.
He said, “Our team found that a complete curfew without any relaxation is imposed in both the places and people are badly suffering due to the continuous curbs for the past five days.”
“Our team has found a large number of army, police and paramilitary troopers spread across the length and breadth of Handwara and Kupwara areas,” Khan added.
Ajaz Ahmad Sofi, president Handwara Traders Federation, said that the government was giving a notion that the school girl, who is at the centre of the protests and killings, was not molested by a soldier.
“But everybody knows that the girl was molested and people who were protesting against it were targeted with bullets,” he said.
“When non-Kashmiri students were beaten up at NIT, India’s home minister and every BJP leader expressed anguish over the student. But nobody speaks up when our children were killed. Are our children animals?” Sofi said, asking PDP to part ways with BJP.
He said army and paramilitary bunkers in Handwara chowk and other places are a nuisance for the local population.
“Former chief minister Mufti Muhammad Syed had promised the traders and local residents that these bunkers will be removed but the promise was never fulfilled.”
Another traders’ leader Muhammad Ashraf blamed PDP for implementing the RSS agenda in Kashmir.
“Mehbooba Mufti should end this unfair alliance (with BJP),” he said.