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Kashmiri victims of Gujarat pogrom 

In the recent riots in Gujarat, Kashmir has contributed in more than one way. Rioters in different parts of Gujarat killed half a dozen Kashmiri Muslims. It was perhaps in retaliation to a number of general strikes, protests and processions organised in Kashmir to express solidarity with the suffering Muslims of Gujarat. Kasmiris trading in Gujarat suffered during these riots.

Rioters looted most of the stalls belonging to Kashmiri traders at the All India Handloom Expo in Ahmedabad. Kashmiris received punishment on two grounds. Firstly, because of being Muslims and secondly, because of hailing from Kashmir.The latest addition to the casualties has been a Kashmiri engineer from Pulwama district of the valley.

According to reports received from Ahmedabad, 44 year- old engineer Nazir Ahmad Khan was caught by some Shiv Sena workers in the evening of May 30, and slaughtered with sharp- edged weapons. Nazir, reports say, was working as branch manager with a construction company. In the fateful evening when he was returning from his office, he was caught by a group of goondas and taken away to a deserted place. The group cut different parts of his body before killing him. Nazir had settled there 20 years ago. He had married a local woman and was father of a baby. His body was buried in Gujarat. Police reached the spot of killing five hours after the incident.

Nazir was not the first Kashmiri victim of communal violence in Gujarat. Earlier, two Kashmiri transporters were burnt alive by a mob in Ahmedabad, which had also set their truck on fire. Some of the Kashmiris are also reported to have gone missing during the recent riots. However, a group of traders from Kashmir was lucky enough to save their lives though their merchandise worth crores of rupees was burnt or looted. These traders were in Ahmedabad as participants in Government of India- sponsored National Handloom Expo- 2002. These traders on their return to Kashmir revealed how police patronised the rioters and failed to protect the victims.

Javed Matjee in Srinagar

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