Srinagar: Violence broke out in Bhaderwah town of Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir Thursday after an elderly Muslim man was shot dead by a group of cow vigilantes late last night. Angry protesters set ablaze an auto-rickshaw and a scooter and broke window panes of several vehicles to protest the killing, forcing the state police to impose curfew in order to prevent communal violence.
The situation remained tense throughout the day as security forces were deployed in the main town Bhaderwah.
Late last night, 52-year-old Nayeem Ahmad Shah, a local resident of Bhaderwah, was shot dead while another person was injured after they were fired upon by a group of cow vigilantes who "seemed to have laid the vigil" at Nalthi to prevent "cow smuggling". The incident occurred between 1.30 am to 2 am, police officials and local residents said.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Doda, Shabir Ahmad Malik, said that the police have detained eight suspects. "While Nayeem had received multiple wounds after he was fired upon from a country made firearm, another one suffered minor splinter injuries. We have been able to defuse the tension by imposing curfew and restricting the protests," Malik said.
Police officials said that all the eight people who have been detained were Hindus.
Mohammad Iqbal Khan, a relative of the victim, said that Nayeem was returning home from Kathua where he had gone to purchase horses, when he was fired upon and died instantly.
"He traded in horses and sheep and had gone to Kathua only a day before. He was not carrying any animal along when he was shot dead. He was killed by a cow vigilante group and had been harassed even earlier while he had travelled along with a flock of horses and mules," said Khan.
Nayeem was buried at a graveyard in Bhaderwah Thursday afternoon that lied close to his home town of Qilla Mohalla.
Khan also said that the victim was planning to return to Kathua in a few days to bring back the horses, and that he was on his way home to keep the Ramadan fast.
Eyewitnesses said that violence erupted across the town as soon as the news of the death spread across the region. The death took place at Nalthi on Bhaderwah-Himachel Pradesh road which lied barely few kilometres away from Bhaderwah main town, local residents said.
An eye-witness, Mohammad Ramzan, said that he woke up to the sound of the gunshots and the cries of people. As soon as he rushed out of his house, he found a man lying in a pool of blood on the roadside.
"After I ventured out of my house, I found a body lying by the roadside. The person had received several wounds in the head and the body was splattered with blood. It was after several hours that one of the accomplices of the deceased, who had managed to flea, returned back. His relatives took the body away them several hours later," said Ramzan.
Nalthi sarpanch, Yasir Mohammad Wani, said that late in the night he received a call on his phone about a "murder" had taken place in his area, following which he rushed to the place and found a "man lying soaked in blood". He said that the elderly man had died on the spot.
Early in the morning as the news of the death spread, local Muslims took out a protest rally in Bhaderwah town demonstrating against the attack. The authorities have suspended mobile internet services across Bhaderwah, while local residents said that they feared communal attacks.
Former Congress MLA from Bhaderwah, Mohammad Sharief Niaz, said that he was not allowed to proceed to Bhaderwah from Jammu. "I was turned back from Udhampur and told that a curfew has been imposed in the Bhaderwah town," he said.
"The police should take strict action against those who are involved in the killing," he said.
Yasir said that while there have been no recent incidents of communal violence, cow vigilante groups which operated in the area had been harassing Muslims for a while.
"Separate groups of 10-15 people operate in many areas of Bhaderwah and harass the people. They lay vigil on the roads and prevent Muslims from trading cattle legally. The administration should take strict action against those who are responsible for terrorising the people," he said.
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Updated Date: May 16, 2019 21:18:42 IST