After a lull of 55 days, the troubled south Kashmir town of Shopian shut down again on Wednesday.
This time the protest was against the mysterious death of Mohammad Hussain Zargar, 42, a property dealer and leading activist of the People’s Committee that spearheaded the agitation against the rape and murder outside Shopian town, 50 km south of Srinagar.
People in district had been on protest for 47 days to demand that the criminals behind the May 29 rape and murder of two young women be brought to book, but the protests had simmered down after the Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Barin Ghosh assured the them that justice would be delivered.
On Tuesday evening, Zargar’s body was discovered in an orchard in the town’s congested lower middle class locality of Bongam, where the raped and murdered women — Neelofar Jan (22) and her sister-in-law Asiya Jan (17) — used to reside.
Zargar’s body was found barely two hours after Chief Minister Omar Abdullah vowed at a public rally in Shopian that those who raped and killed Neelofar and Asiya would be hanged to death.
The district was shut in protest against Zargar’s death. Shops, schools and business establishments were closed and traffic was off the roads.
Thousands of people raising pro-freedom slogans participated in Zargar’s funeral procession. His family was allowed to perform the last rites only after a team of doctors from the Government Medical College in Srinagar conducted a post-mortem on the body.
Shopian Superintendent of Police Shahid Meraj said, “The post-mortem report has not yet come. Meanwhile, we have registered a case under Section 302 (murder),” he said.
Local residents alleged that Zargar was killed by the same securitymen who were behind the rape and murder of Neelofar and Asiya.