By Sheikh Qayoom
The nocturl murderous attack on a Valley bound truck in Udhampur town of Jammu region on October 9 has sent ripples across communities in Jammu and Kashmir whose beneficiaries can only be enemies of peace and progress.
The Udhampur attack happened following a beef party organized and highlighted by legislator Sheikh Abdul Rashid, better known as Engineer Rashid, who represents the north Kashmir Langate assembly seat in the 87-member state legislative assembly.
Ironically, the legislator’s beef party on October 7 took place in the backdrop of an apex court decision suspending the order of a division bench of the state high court that had directed the police chief to strictly enforce beef ban in the state.
Slaughter and possession of beef is banned in Jammu and Kashmir under its own pel code, called the Ranbir Pel Code (RPC), which has been in force since 1864.
The apex court directed the chief justice of the state high court to constitute a three-judge bench that would resolve the confusion that had arisen by conflicting orders by the division bench in Jammu and the single bench in Srigar.
The suspension of the Jammu division bench order has been interpreted as preventing the police from stopping bovine slaughter and possession.
Immediately after the apex court suspension of the Jammu division bench directive, Engineer Rashid threw a beef party at the legislators’ hostel in Srigar.
This infuriated the BJP legislators who thrashed Rashid inside the state assembly on October 8.
State Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed condemned the attack on the legislator and Deputy Chief Minister, Nirmal Singh, who belongs to the BJP, had to follow suit.
A parked truck in Udhampur town was attacked on October 10 during the night as three people slept inside.
Assailants threw a petrol bomb inside and set the truck ablaze.
While the driver, Rameez Ahmad maged to escape, 16-year old Zahid Rasool Bhat and 35-year old Showkat Ahmad Dar sustained serious burn injuries and are being treated at government expense in New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
The attack on three Kashmiri Muslims was carried out by agitated Hindus, six of whom have already been arrested by the Udhampur police while the main accused is still absconding.
The over 300-km long Jammu-Srigar highway is the lifeline of supplies for the landlocked, Muslim majority Valley.
All essentials of life are brought into the Valley through this highway.
A temporary blockade of the highway due to bad weather results in prices spiralling out of the common man’s reach in the Valley.
During 2008 Amarth land row agitation when forest land allotment to the Amarth Shrine Board was agitated by the Muslims in the Valley, rightwing Hindu politicians had declared an ‘economic blockade’ on the Valley by stopping the passage of petroleum products, edibles and medicines through the Jammu-Srigar road.
The ‘economic blockade’ of 2008 by Hindu rightwing politicians came handy for the separatists in Kashmir.
They issued statements in 2008 saying the ‘economic blockade’ had proved that the Muslim majority state’s accession to India in 1947 had been a flawed decision.
Top business bodies like the chambers of commerce and industry of Jammu and Srigar held a joint press conference in Srigar on Monday condemning those responsible for the murderous attack on three Kashmiris in Udhampur.
“It suits only those who want both Hindus and Muslims to suffer and remain in perpetual misery. No sane element can speak or even think of a commul clash when both India and Pakistan have already paid too heavily because of such politics.
“My family came to Jammu in 1947 from Mirpur (Pakistani Kashmir). I know what misery can religious frenzy bring on innocent people,” Rakesh Gupta, president of Jammu chamber of commerce and industry told IANS after the press conference.
A miniscule fringe group looking for political profit might benefit by stoking commul trouble.
Religious or psychological sabre-rattling in the Muslim majority Valley or the Hindu majority Jammu region would only add to the miseries of the common man whose patience with violence of all sorts has already run out. (IANS)
(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at email@example.com)