South Kashmir shuts to remember Asiya, Neelofar on 7th anniversary

Victim family questions in-power Mehbooba’s silence
ANANTNAG: On the seventh anniversary of Shopian double rape and murder, shutdown was observed in most townships of south Kashmir on Monday, even as a peaceful protest was held in Shopian against the “denial of justice” to the victims Asiya and Neelofar.
Shops, business establishments, and private offices remained closed in Shopian, Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam and other townships of south Kashmir. The traffic movement on the roads also remained affected.
The call for shutdown was given by Hurriyat Conference (G), which is led Syed Ali Geelani.
Amid the shutdown in Shopian, scores of people, including the family members of the victims, took out a peaceful protest rally, the witnesses said.
Carrying banners, reading “Justice for Asiya, Neelofar”, the protesters marched up to Rambiara from which the bodies of the two women had been recovered on May 30, 2009, morning. According to the families and the public, the women were raped and murdered by government forces, but the state has been refuting the version.
At Rambiara, several pro-freedom leaders, who were a part of the protest, paid rich tributes to Asiya and Neelofar.
The protesters later marched up to the graveyard and offered special prayers for the victims.
The family members of the victims questioned the silence adopted by the chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s after she came into power.
“After the incident, Mehbooba Mufti visited our home and promised to fight for justice to Asiya and Neelofar. She even forced her entry into the police station and got the FIR lodged into the case. Till then, police was refusing to register the case for several days. But after coming into power, she did not utter a word for the victims,” Shakeel Ahmad Ahangar, brother of Asiya and husband of Neelofar, told Kashmir Reader.
“There was not even a single rally during the elections in which Mehbooba and other PDP leaders did not talk about the incident and promised to deliver justice once they are voted to power,” Ahangar said.
He said raising hue and cry over the incident while in opposition and maintaining silence in power clearly indicates that PDP “was playing politics over the issue to gain public sympathy”.
Ahangar appealed the International Forum for Justice and other rights groups to intervene and help them get justice.
“We organise remembrance meetings on the anniversaries of the incident only to convey the killers of my wife and sister that we have not forgotten them. We appeal the international rights groups to take a note of the human rights abuses committed by the Indian forces in Kashmir,” he said.
The incident had triggered Valley-wide protests and 47 day long agitation in Shopian led by Masjlis-e-Mashawrat.
The case was initially investigated by emerald agencies including special investigation team of police and a judicial commission headed by Justice Muzzaffar Jan, who did not rule out rape.
As there was no let up in the protests, the then-government, headed by Omar Abdullah, handed over the case to CBI. In its report, CBI in ruled out rape and concluded that the duo had died of drowning in a stream.
The report, however, found no takers in Kashmir with family, pro-freedom groups, and rights bodies out rightly rejecting the CBI’s findings.

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