Civil society actors of Kashmir on Thursday urged all the religious leaders to play a positive role in ending the sectarian clashes in Budgam, stressing that the pattern of riots in the central district was very suspicious.
In a statement issued here, the civil society group said that for the last few days some villages of Budgam district are witnessing unfortunate incidents of sectarian clashes.
“Many villages continue to be under curfew but without cessation of violence,” the group said, adding, “It is reported that two youth groups entered into a brawl near Khomeni Chowk, Bemina on the Thursday evening, 18th July.”
As the rival groups belonged to Sunni and Shia sects, the group said, this minor tussle was manipulated by “vested” interests into a Shia-Sunni clash.
“Next day, on 19th July, the clashes spread to many other adjoining villages, despite the fact that entire valley was under strict curfew and at various places there were protests being carried out against the desecration of Holy Quran, sacrilege of the mosque and unprovoked extra-judicial killings of 4 unarmed persons in cold blood at Gool, Ramban by Border Security Force and Police.”
The group said that so far many houses, shops and vehicles of both the communities have been damaged.
According to the locals from these villages, the group said, the Police intervention instead of addressing the clashes further enraged the people.
Despite curfew and deployment of police and CRPF, the group said it was baffling how properties continue to be damaged.
For example, it said, on 23rd July at Suhipora, Wadwan around 40 houses were torched, out of which 30 belong to one community and 10 houses of other sect.
“The pattern of these riots is very suspicious and it appears there exists some ulterior motives behind the current flare up,” the group said, adding, “Having said that it would be naïve and inappropriate to be in denial and not acknowledge the increasing hostility in the discourses of some sections of Sunni and Shia communities.”
However, the group said, it will also be amiss on failure to take note that some vested interest groups are hell bent in hyping the differences amongst the two sects and inciting violence between the two communities who despite their well known theological view-points have never been involved in violence against each other in Kashmir and have always lived in comparative harmony with each other.
“As expected, the district administration and the police have played anything but a conciliatory role,” the group said, adding, “Also the curfew around and in these villages has crucially restricted the possibility of civil society initiatives for reconciliation.”
The civil society group urged the people at large and the religious leaders from all sections of the society to play a positive role in ending sectarian clashes in Budgam forthwith. “Also we urge the religious leaders, particularly of Sunni majority community to urgently attend to the need of de-escalating the anti-Shia discourse amongst all sections of our society.”
The group also lashed out at some religious leaders for “unintentionally or intentionally” encouraging by blaming the Shia community for being “anti-movement.”
“It is a blatant lie and those encouraging this discourse should stop forthwith, feel ashamed of vitiating our precious atmosphere of life-long amity, willy-nilly acting as tools of those who want to divide us”.