Shopian shuts on ‘double rape and murder’ anniversary

Shabir Ahmad
Anantnag: Normal life was disrupted in south Kashmir’s Shopian town due to a strike called by Hurriyat Conference(G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani on the fifth anniversary of Shopian ‘double rape and murder case.’
Shops, business establishments and petrol pumps in the town, 52 kms from here, were closed while public transport was off the roads, official sources said here.
In a statement, Geelani thanked people of Shopian for observing the shutdown and demanded that the incident be probed by an independent and impartial body .
Geelani had called a shutdown in the district and appealed people to hold prayer meetings in mosques for the victims – Asiya and Nelofar –
whose death had sparked valley wide protests after allegations of rape and murder of the two women by government forces surfaced in 2009. Asiya (17) and her sister-in-law Neelofar (22) were allegedly raped and killed in Shopian during the intervening night of May 29-30 in 2009.
Geelani said the incident was a “serious attack against the collective conscience” of people of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Indian forces have used rape and harassment of Kashmiri women as a weapon of war and they will continue to do so until an example is set by punishing guilty forces’ personnel for the heinous crimes perpetrated by them,” he said.
“Kashmiris have offered immense sacrifices in the course of their struggle against Indian occupation and it’s high time we safeguarded those sacrifices by staying away from pro-India politics and politicians and desisting from any act which could harm our cause,” he said.
After the Friday prayers, people came out on the streets and held protest rallies. Raising slogans in favor of freedom from India and justice for the victims, the protesters marched through various streets of the town before assembling at the Gole Chowk.
Senior pro-freedom leaders including Shabir Ahmad Shah and district president of Hurriyat (G) Mohammad Yousuf Falahi also visited the township and addressed the protest rally. Geelani also addressed the rally over the phone.
On Thursday, the family members of the victims organised a remembrance meet and staged a sit-in near Rambiara, where from the bodies of the two women had been recovered.
A spokesman for the JKLF said that several leaders of the pro-independence group including advocate Bashir Ahmad Butt, Noor Mohammad Kalwal,Showkat Ahmad Bakshi, Mohammad Yasin Butt and Bashir Ahmad Kashmiri were arrested by police at Newah Pulwama when they were on their way to Shopian.