Imagine people beating their chest, crying and offering Janaza (funeral prayers) to an unknown "martyr" in Srinagar, only to find that the dead man is not a protester or even a Muslim.
That is exactly what happened on Saturday evening, when the markets the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, had just opened in accordance to Hurriyat’s week-long protest programme calendar.
Shopkeepers had just pulled their shutters, hoping to make a quick buck during relaxation period, when some people noticed a dead body floating near the Amira Kadal bridge in river Jhelum, which flows through the heart of Srinagar city.
Within minutes, as a group of youth jumped into the river to fish out the lifeless body, a massive protests broke out and hundreds of people gathered at the bridge in Lal Chowk area.
When the body was bought up, people raised pro-freedom slogans while women started beating their chest. People carried the body on their shoulders claiming the dead man was a "protester killed by forces".
A man in early fifties, addressing the onlookers on the bridge, shouted pro-Azadi slogan, saying this was the ‘second death in a day,’ the first had occurred when a youth was killed in south Kashmir’s Vessu area on Khanabal-Qazigund road, earlier in the day.
"This is a cold blooded murder and after killing him they (forces) have thrown him into river so that no one will come to know about it," the man shouted.
As the news spread, business establishments were shut abruptly, and protesters clashed with police who resorted to firing tear gas shells at them.
Protesters took turns to offer Jinaza to the deceased. Pro-Azadi slogans rented the air as people tried to take deceased's body for the burial. Many offered his funeral prayers near Palladium cinema before taking out a protest march. They tried to march towards Eidgah cemetery to bury the body, but the police and CRPF men tear gassed the rally at Hari Singh Street, and the body was forcibly taken away by police to a Police Control Room.
Newspapers quoted eyewitnesses saying the fished out body had "marks of violence". Some even suggested their were pellet marks on the body.
However, everyone was shocked when the police and some protesters, after undressing the man, found that the deceased was not a Muslim and was not even a local.
By the time reality had dawned, the city centre had been shut and hardly any vehicle played on the roads.
Police later issued an appeal urging people to inform Shaheed Gunj police station in Srinagar if they recognised the body. Cops also released the picture of the decomposed body to set the record straight.
First Published On : Sep 4, 2016 09:34 IST