Local newspapers here published an appeal on Monday by Bachelor of Education students that their examinations, currently being conducted in Kashmir, be postponed.
The appeal was made as this town has been facing a continuous shutdown since May 30 after the bodies of a 23-year-old woman and a 17-year-old schoolgirl were found in a canal outside Shopian, 50 km south of Srinagar.
The protests have been getting stronger after the Shopian police registered a first information report (FIR) that the two women were raped and murdered. The FIR was based on autopsy reports by the district hospitals of Shopian and neighbouring Pulwama.
The rape-and-murder has been rocking all of Kashmir, with protests and shutdowns in various parts of the Valley.
Though the protests in other parts of Kashmir have subsided for the time being, Shopian continues to be shut. The protests here are being organised under the banner of Majlis-e-Mashawarat (a consultative body) of Shopian.
The Majlis comprises of 21 members drawn from all localities (mohalla) of the town. It is headed by a retired government employee, Abdul Rasheed Dalal. Two retired teachers, Mohammad Shafi Khan and Abdul Hameed Deva, are its secretary and spokesperson, respectively.
“We will not end the strike until the culprits are arrested. The government knows the culprits. They are being shielded,” said Deva.
Deputy Commissioner Abdul Majeed Khanday said he has opened channels of communication with the sponsors of the agitation.
“But they keep changing. If today we negotiate with someone, tomorrow we find some other person leading the agitation. They don’t speak in one voice,” he said.
The Majlis members and functionaries are camping outside the local Jamia Masjid. Residents come in turns in hundreds to join the sit-in protest.
An effigy of superintendent of police (SP) Javaid Iqbal (now transferred to Ramban) hangs from the top of a shop in front of the Jamia Masjid, indicative of the people’s anger at the police.
Residents even name the police and Special Operations Group men allegedly involved in the crime.