Zanskar Muslims seeks an end to boycott by Buddhists

KL Report 

SRINAGAR

Demanding an end to the ‘social boycott’ against them by the majority Buddhist community in mountainous Zanskar region of Jammu and Kashmir, the Muslims in the region on Tuesday alleged that they are being ruled by ‘hooligans’.

Talking to the local news agency over phone, the Muslims of Padam in Zanskar said since last two years their life has become hell. “The ‘social boycott enforced by Buddhists should end. We appeal government that they should ask the majority community why we are being punished. What is our fault?”

The Padam area of Zanskar has witnessed communal clashes since August 2012 when four ‘low caste’
Buddhist families comprising of 22 members accepted Islam. “Though,” says one of the Muslims from Zanskar, “we told them to reconsider decision of embracing Islam and sent them back but they came again and then accepted Islam.”

“In September 2012, they finally accepted Islam and became Muslims,” Muhammad Shafi Wani, a teacher, said. The conversion angered majority community and clashes between the two groups started in which dozens including a senior officer was injured, he said. Many injured were rushed to Sher-i-Kashmir Medical Institute Sciences Soura in summer capital Srinagar.

The minority alleges that they are being ‘time and again attacked’ by Buddhists. “Since then, our lives have become hell. They (four families) became Muslims at their own. We didn’t force them and they are happy as Muslims,” Shafi said.

The latest spate of attacks against Minority started on May 9 when some people were attacked by a Buddhist mob. “They were washing clothes on river and a mob led by Lamas attacked them,” another local said. Amanullah, 25, from Ufty village where seven Muslim households live, was injured and he was airlifted to Leh for treatment.

Appealing government to take steps in ending ‘Social Boycott’ against them, Shafi said: “We have been barred even to go near river. We can’t catch fishes. We can’t wash clothes on river. When sometimes our children go to wash clothes on river, they are harassed by hooligans. We appeal government to end this injustice against minority Muslim community.”

He alleged that even policemen are afraid of taking action against hooligans led by Lamas.

“Had not Government deployed Armed Police, we would have been again attacked,” he said. He alleged that no one listens to Muslim community. “Not even people in Kargil. We are insecure,” he said.

“Few Buddhist families live with Muslims and if we wish we could attack them easily like we are being attacked, but we are not hooligans and don’t preach violence,” he added.

The Deputy Commissioner of Kargil, Sadiq Shiekh said that minority community is ‘not facing any social boycott’ from majority community. “No such thing has been brought into my notice so far. There was some clash but the things are okay now as both the communities have comprised,” he said.

He also dismissed the allegations leveled by minority community that they are insecure in the area. “We have beefed security in the area. There is adequate number of police personal deployed to thwart any violence,” Sheikh added.

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