Curfew lifted for two hours in Zanskar

Saima Bhat

Srinagar

A day before the Eid celebration across the subcontinent, the Zanskar area of Kargil remained tense with curfew imposed by authorities even on the fourth consecutive day, fearing further clashes between the two communities.

Today as the situation seemed a bit normal a relaxation of two hours was given to people.

So far no arrangements have been made for Eid prayers and communications have also not been restored. The cell phone remained silent across the Kargil.

According to sources protests are going on the Panikhar and Drass areas of Kargil. Protesters demand curfew should be lifted from Zanskar. And they allege that the relaxation in curfew have been given only in Buddhist area’s not in the Padam area where minority Muslim live in.

A police officer told Kashmir Life, “Situation is under control so we have given a relaxation for two hours. If situation remains normal then we may give relaxation tomorrow for longer time. Presently we are thinking on restoring the communication.”

Locals alleged that Muslim minority in Zanskar are getting step motherly treatment as no official has visited them yet.

Some of the students of Zanskar, who study in various institutions in Kashmir, held a protest at Press Enclave on Thursday. They said, “We don’t have any communication with our families due to which we have become restless here. We are not able to concentrate on our studies. Above all the majority Buddhists are continuously attacking our lives and property back home.”

Some of the students allege that there was no change in situation on ground as Zanskar Buddhists Association (ZBA) was actually seeking custody of all the converted members. They were adamant with their demand following which the clashes broke in the area.

Reports say people who embraced Islam in September, were not allowed to live peacefully in their homes and were asked by ZBA to revert back.

On seeing the situation getting worse they took refuge at Jama–Masjid Padum, Zanskar for almost one month due to threat & risk to their life.

Once the converted families tried to settle back to their respective homes they were once again thrashed and beaten-up “thus not allowing them to enter their homes.”

As per recent reports the property of converts has been illegally occupied by the Buddhist community.

Following the clashes curfew was imposed on Tuesday evening after clashes erupted in Padum Chowk, where minority Muslims live, between the two opposite groups.

Feroz Ahmad Khan, MLA Zanskar told Kashmir Life, “Presently situation is better. On the eve of Eid markets will remain open and we have given permission for the Eid congregation. Eid prayers will be performed as it used to as we have arranged enough forces, IRP battalion (Indian Reserve Police) and state police for the safety of local Muslims if any untoward incidents happens”.

Some people from the minority have also written a letter to the CM for his cognizance as they claim that the local administration, mostly of Buddhists, are adding to the fuel. Letter also reads, administrative action should be taken against SDM Zanskar, who is a Buddhist, for his biased attitude against Muslims.

They have informed CM about the recent situation in which minority Muslims and their properties were damaged.  However it has been mentioned in the letter addressing CM that if their demands are not met within a week then they will take law and order in their hands.

Pertinently, 26 people from six families changed their faith in September this year. Despite making it public that there was no force behind their conversion, the ZBA has been accusing Muslims for their conversion. According to reports, the families who embraced Islam are from lower cast of the Buddhist and they accepted Islam as it has no issues of caste, creed and color.

Meanwhile, protesting students on Thursday urged government to provide security to the minority section given to immense “threats” by the majority community. The protests were led by MLA, Langate Abdul Rashid.

Meanwhile, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti has expressed anguish at the miseries heaped on defenseless people and government’s inability to enforce law and order. While advising caution and restraint over the situation in Zanskar area, Mehbooba urged the government to ensure safety and security of people there. She has strongly condemned the violent incidents in Zanskar that had left many people injured and homes damaged.

According to fresh reports, last night Buddhists attacked and damaged properties belonging to Muslim minority community in Padum, forcing them to take refuge in a mosque to save themselves from attacks.

“Government has failed to protect lives and properties of Muslims living in Zanaskar areas,” said Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chairman Hurriyat (M) during his Friday sermon at Jamia Masjid Srinagar.

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