SRINAGAR/Jammu: A complete shutdown marked by pro-freedom demonstrations was observed in the Valley and Muslim-majority areas of Jammu region on Monday against the murder of Zahid Ahmad, a trucker from Anantnag, by a Hindu mob in Udhampur on October 9.
Despite rains, thousands of people attended the funeral of Zahid in his native village, Botengoo, shouting pro-freedom, anti-India and pro-Pakistan slogans. A youth was seen waving a Pakistani flag in the procession.
Eyewitness told Kashmir Reader that after Zahid was laid to rest, anti-India protests broke out, which later morphed into clashes between mourners and the police in Anantnag.
Before the burial, Hurriyat (G) general secretary and Jamaat-e-Islami spokesman Zahid Ali addressed the mourners and asked people to unite “to fight the Indian occupation”.
“In occupation, these incidents will continue to happen. So we must unite for the cause of freedom which is our birthright,” senior Hurriyat (G) leader Ghulam Nabi Sumji told the gathering.
He also appealed the people not to disrespect the martyrs by taking part in elections.
“The parties like National Conference and PDP are there to cement the illegal occupation of India only for power. If you think PDP is better than NC you are mistaken. Their agenda is the same, which is to strengthen the Indian occupation in Kashmir,” Sumji said.
Because of the shutdown, traffic remained suspended on Srinagar-Jammu highway for the second day today.
Hundreds of vehicles are stranded at various places along the road including Jawahar tunnel, Qazigund, Harnag Lewdoora, Bijbehara and Sangam.
A traffic official told Kashmir Reader said that the traffic on the highway was suspended purely due to security concerns. “We don’t want to take any chances and allow the traffic until the situation at Betengoo is brought under control,” the official told Kashmir Reader.
In Doda, Kishtwar and Banihal areas of Jammu region, people demonstrated against the murder. In Banihal, mourners also burnt tyres on Srinagar-Jammu highway. Shops and businesses remained closed in Thathri, Gandoh, Gool, Bhaderwah and other major towns of the Chenab Valley.
Both factions of Hurriyat Conference, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (Yaseen group), Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kashmir Traders Manufactures Federation and Kashmir Economic Alliance had given the shutdown call. Sanjay Tickoo-led Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, an organisation of Kashmiri Hindus, has also supported the strike call.
Anjuman Islamia Doda, the biggest religious organisation in the area, had also given a shutdown call.
Talking to Kashmir Reader, president of the Anjuman, Hassan Babar, said that this cowardly act has shamed the humanity.
“The death of a young man is a black spot on the humanity and it should be condemned,” he said and demanded that the culprits should be punished according to law.
To prevent protests, the government had imposed restrictions under section 144 and deployed thousands of policemen and paramilitary forces in the city.
Senior pro-freedom leaders Hurriyat (G) Syed Ali Geelani, JKLF chief Muhammad Yasin Malik, Shabir Ahmed Shah, Nayeem Ahmed Khan, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Ayaz Akbar, Javaid Ahmed Mir, Zaffar Akbar Bhat and other were kept under house arrest.
All business establishments, government and private offices, educational institutions remained closed. In view of the strike call, school, college and university level exams have been deferred by one day. The first convocation of Islamic University of Science & Technology (IUST), which was to be attended by India’s Human Resources Development minister Smriti Zubin Irani has also been deferred.