SRINAGAR: All leading Kashmir-based trade bodies on Tuesday launched a scathing attack on the Government of India, Indian trade bodies, and Indian intelligentsia for not doing anything to prevent the vicious onslaught on ordinary Kashmiris that began after the Pulwama attack in which 49 CRPF troops were killed.
The trade bodies’ outrage has come after hundreds of Kashmiri students and traders were threatened to leave from Dehradun, Ambala, Rajasthan, and other states after the February 14 attack that rattled the government and its various security agencies.
“Lives and properties of our people were put to grave risk. The mob attacked shops and vehicles of Kashmiris, which were set on fire. Our people who were injured had to run from one place to another for their safety,” Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Vice President Nasir Hamid Khan told reporters.
The attacks on Kashmiri Muslims started from Jammu region after a bandh call given by the KCCI’s counterpart Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The violent protests led by frenzied mobs on the day of the bandh forced the administration to impose curfew and guard the streets with help of Indian army. Many were taken under preventive custody after curfew was defied. The attacks in Jammu were followed by incidents in other states where FIRs were registered against Kashmiris, a college dean was sacked, and students were suspended.
“The violence in Jammu region started after Jammu Chamber called for bandh on February 15. Unfortunately, the Jammu Chamber failed to live up to expectations. There is no doubt that the cause of the violence was the result of the Jammu Bandh call given by the traders’ community. We urge them to adopt multidimensional thinking before taking any such decisions in future,” Khan said.
Khan was supported by another battery of traders who spoke at another presser called by the Kashmir Economic Alliance, the Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation, and the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. One of its leaders, Muhammad Yaseen Khan, said that the bandh call given by JCCI on Friday became a “tipping point” for the mob violence to break out.
“Instead of playing politics, they (JCCI) could have been more responsible and shown restraint instead of playing a contentious role. Goons are being let loose in Jammu and other parts of India, where Kashmiris don’t feel secure now. Role of Divisional Commissioner Jammu and IG Police is condemnable as they were missing from the ground during the first four hours of rioting, which gave a free hand to mobs to attack Kashmiris,” said Khan.
Kashmiris in various parts of India should be protected from harassment, Khan appealed to the international community and to the Indian intelligentsia. He said that Kashmiris’ patience should not be tested, and steps should be taken to guard Kashmiris and address Kashmir as a political issue and not as a law and order problem.
“We don’t want to take any extreme step, for which our student community outside will have to bear the brunt. Kashmir is a political issue and requires an immediate solution to prevent further bloodshed in future,” Khan added. “We know that elections are nearing in India for which the politicians have found an issue to gain votes from the public. We won’t allow them to instigate one community against another in the state, which is already battling with bloodshed since last 70 years,” Khan said.
President of Federation Chamber of Industries of Kashmir (FCIK), Muhammad Ashraf Mir, who also spoke on the occasion, said that GoI appoints Kashmiris in jobs in various states and later threatens them to leave.
“What is this? What will they do in Kashmir? Our counterparts could have played an important role to own our students instead of vitiating the atmosphere,” he said.