A mob burnt a school bus on Saturday morning during a shutdown call by the separatists in Srinagar even as a delegation of visiting parliamentarians and civil society members urged the Centre to initiate dialogue with separatist leaders.
The police said the mob targeted a Tibetan Public School bus in the old city on its way to pick up school children.
Eyewitnesses said the driver and a schoolboy were first asked to get off the bus. “The driver was forcibly asked to stop the bus which was later set ablaze,” police said. As news about the attack spread, some private schools shut for the day.
Separatists have condemned the torching of the bus and demanded a probe. “We believe these are miscreants who are not related to the Kashmir struggle,” separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said. “They want to give our struggle, which is a peaceful movement, a bad name.” Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, too, distanced himself from the attack. “There is no room for violence in our struggle.”
A visiting group of parliamentarians and civil society members led by Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan on Saturday urged the Centre to resume dialogue with the separatists. “Whether Kashmir is disputed or not, there can be difference of opinion, but nothing has been done on other issues like withdrawal of troops,” Paswan said after meeting Geelani and the Mirwaiz.
“Last time we came representing the Indian government. This time we came independently and met the family of Tufail Matoo (the teenager killed on June 11), but nothing has happened on the ground. Why haven’t detainees been freed?” he said.
Members of the team include D Raja(CPI), Nama Nageswara Rao(TDP), Shahid Siddiqui of RLD, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, journalist Seema Mustafa and academician Kamal Chenoy.