Protests following Sopore killing of two girls

Srinagar (Jammu & Kashmir): Protest demonstrations were carried out here and a complete shutdown was observed in north Kashmir’s Sopore against killing of two sisters by unidentified gunmen in Muslim Peer locality in the town.

Akhtera and her sister Arifa were abducted by unidentified gunmen from their residence on January 31 (night) and shot dead in the neighbouring Mohallah Rahim Sahab. Police blamed Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), a militant outfit for the killings, who in turn rejected it and accused government agencies for the same.

Zamrooda Habib, patron Muslim Khawateen Markaz (MKM), a constituent of Hurriyat Conference (G), accompanied by her party members led a protest on February 4 in commercial hub Lal Chowk against the killings. Carrying placards the party activists demanded justice for the two.

Scores of women staged protests in Sopore against the killings. Reports say that women took to streets in Muslim Peer and Chinkipora area demanding punishment to the persons responsible for the act. Condemning the incident, scores of women staged a sit-in at a municipal park, here on February 3. Carrying placards, women, most of whom covered their faces, demanded stern action against those found guilty.

A complete shutdown was observed in Sopore on February 4 against the killings. Markets, shops, private and government offices and commercial institutions remained closed in view of a shutdown call by Hurriyat (G). Violent clashes broke out between protesters and security forces in Baramulla town after congregational Friday prayers on February 4.

Pertinently, government, separatist and militant organizations have condemned the act. Police claims that two of the three militants responsible for the act have been identified and blame militant group, Laskhar-e-Toiba (LeT) for it. LeT however, denies it. “The police claim about involvement of our activists in killing of sisters is baseless”, LeT spokesman was quoted saying so by an international news gathering agency, AFP on February 2. No militant group claimed the responsibility. Even no arrests have been made by the police.

Hurriyat (M) led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, in a statement issued here on February 2 while strongly denouncing the killings said, “Whosoever is involved should be brought to book. It is an inhuman and heinous act”. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chairman Hurriyat Conference (G), in a statement issued from New Delhi on February 2, demanded an impartial probe into the incident by a credible international body.

United Jihad Council (UJC) chief Syed Salahuddin said, “The gruesome incident has shocked UJC leadership. This seems to be the handiwork of Indian agencies”, saying to a local news agency, here. Earlier, the Chief Minister, in an apparent dig at separatists, had come down heavily on “double standards of those who raise a hue and cry on highhandedness of security forces, but maintain silence when militants perpetrate horrible violence”.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-28 February 2011 on page no. 15

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