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Politics over baby’s death

india Updated: Feb 23, 2010 23:56 IST
Toufiq Rashid
Toufiq Rashid
Hindustan Times
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Ghulam Rasool Teli, a daily wager in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rawocha village, 75 km from Srinagar, is inconsolable. He can’t believe his grandson Irfan is gone, forever.

“He was my grandson. But I wanted to raise him as my own son,” he says.

The 11-day-old infant died on Monday, a victim of ongoing clashes between police and protesters in Baramulla district.

His parents were taking him to a hospital as he was suffering from acute blood infection, when some youths attacked them for violating the shutdown.

But the tragedy, instead of numbing the senses, has been turned into political fodder by rival parties.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, facing flak for failing to maintain law and order, promised “strong action” on Tuesday against those responsible for Irfan’s death.

“These goondas (hooligans) should be severely punishment. They killed a baby,” he said, asking the police to identify the culprits and register a case of murder against them.

Abdullah took a swipe at human rights activists who have supported the stone pelters. He also accused the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of supporting the stone throwers by criticising government action against them.

“The opposition had been demanding justice for stone pelters. Now, I want to know if the 11-day-old baby had a right to live or not?” the CM said.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti had, on Monday, said that the youth were pelting stones because the government had failed to honour its promises.

Reacting to Abdullah’s charges, Mufti said the government was levelling charges against the opposition to divert people’s attention from its failures.