Somewhere in Srinagar....

Businesses in Srinagar’s old city remained shuttered on Thursday to protest the death of a 25-year old shopkeeper badly battered for defying a group enforcing a shutdown earlier this month. The police said the attackers stoned Tariq Ahmad Bhat’s shop before beating him with a cricket bat on December 3. He had suffered severe head injuries and died in a Srinagar hospital on Wednesday. Reports said Bhat’s attackers were enforcing a strike against the arrest of people demonstrating against the police use of pepper guns on December 2. Several protesters were also injured when police fired tear-gas shells. Some protesters, trying to enforce a shutdown the following day, asked Bhat to close his shop. He refused to do so, leading to a scuffle. Bhat suffered a skull fracture and slipped into coma. Thousands of mourners joined Bhat’s funeral and sought strict action against his attackers on Wednesday. “We are in deep shock and want to express our solidarity with the Bhat family. We have decided to observe a complete two-day shutdown in the Nowhatta area and a daylong bandh in adjoining areas,” said Mushtaq Ahmad Dariyal of a local traders’ body. On Tuesday, police had arrested four people allegedly involved in beating Bhat to death at Gojwara in old Srinagar. Chief minister Omar Abdullah blamed separatists for the death and said “a peaceful and youthful person’’ had become the “latest victim of your outlook”. Terming the incident “ghastly”, Omar criticized separatists for not “uttering even a word against this heinous act of hooligans”. Challenging separatists to fight the government politically, he said, “Lies cannot live long and people cannot be hoodwinked by slogans and fear. One day, you will have to apologize.’’

No comments: