Amid protests, Zahid laid to rest in South Kashmir

  • Toufiq Rashid, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Oct 19, 2015 21:16 IST
Kashmiri villagers carry the coffin of Zahid Ahmed during the funeral procession at his home at Batangoo village on Monday. (Waseem Andrabi/HT Photo)

The ‘pro-azadi’ protests broke out in Batengoo village of Anantnag district in South Kashmir on Monday against the death of a Muslim youth, who suffered 70% burn injuries in an attack on a Kashmir-bound truck on October 9 and later succumbed to the same on Sunday morning, allegedly by right-wing Hindu activists in Udhampur area.

The funeral of Zahid Ahmad Bhat took place early in the morning, amidst slogans in support of “azadi” and hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani - the 22-year-old from South Kashmir who has become the new face of militancy in the Valley.

Shortly afterwards, the protests turned violent as clashes between forces and youth broke out in the area and police and paramilitary had to resort to tear-gas shelling to disperse the protesters.

Zahid from South Kashmir’s Batengoo village was seriously injured after miscreants in Udhampur attacked him with petrol bombs on the intervening night of October 9-10. A Kashmiri truck with three persons on-board was attacked by a mob. The three Kashmiris, including Zahid and Showkat, were attacked with petrol bombs. While Zahid received 70% burn injuries, Showkat is still under treatment with 40% burn injuries.

After being hospitalised for many days, Zahid succumbed to his burn injuries at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital on Sunday morning. According to his relatives, “My mother must be waiting lets go home,”’ were the young man’s last words.

Kashmiri women watch the funeral procession of Zahid Ahmed in Batangoo village, south of Srinagar, on Monday. (Waseem Andrabi/HT Photo)

The family said Zahid was shifted from the ICU a few days back, but his condition deteriorated in the last two days.

The government officials said Public Safety Act had been slapped on five of the seven people arrested in the case.

While the separatist had called for a shutdown, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti went to receive the coffin of Zahid at Srinagar airport before being driven to Botengo village.

Meanwhile, normal life remained affected in Kashmir as police have imposed curfew like restrictions in many places in the Valley.

All roads leading to Anantnag district are blocked. Security forces have put in barricades and blocked the road with logs of wood.

Even trucks remained stranded on the national highway.

Separatist leaders, including hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, was put under house arrest as separatist had given a call against the killing of the trucker.

Curfew like restrictions were imposed in Anantnag and Bijbehara police station areas in South Kashmir. Similar restrictions have been imposed at six police station areas of Srinagar - MR Gunj, Nowhatta, Safa Kadal, Maisuma, Rainawari and Khanyar.

Government announces ex-gratia

The state Cabinet, which met here under chairmanship of chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed early Monday, condemned the Udhampur communal mob attack. Sayeed moved the resolution, condemning the attack as the Cabinet observed a two-minute silence as a mark of respect for the departed soul.

The Cabinet approved ex-gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh and a government job to the next of the kin of the deceased youth.

The PDP-BJP coalition government also appreciated people of the state for maintaining peace and calm in this hour of loss and grief.

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