Ruling coalition and opposition members were locked in heated exchanges in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly on Saturday over a petrol bomb attack on a Srinagar-bound truck that left three men — two Kashmiris and a policeman — battling burn injuries. The truck was set on fire allegedly by right-wing activists in Jammu’s Udhampur district.
Sources said three people, including the driver, were sleeping in the truck when it was set on fire on Friday. While the driver managed to escape unhurt, two others in the truck were injured. The policeman was hurt while trying to douse the fire.
The attack came a day after reports of cows slaughter in the area led to massive protests and partial bandh in Udhampur and Reasi districts of Hindu-majority Jammu. Authorities have since said no cows were killed. Uhampur SP Suleman Choudhary said the carcass found was that of a cow which had died of natural causes.
Blaming the attack on Hindu groups, National Conference MLA Abdul Majid Larmi raised the issue in the House on Saturday and demanded an explanation from the government.
The state’s horticulture minister, Abdul Rehamna Veeri, said three persons — Bala Bahadur Singh, Sunder Singh and Sunil Singh – were arrested and the search was on for other accused. He said the police intervened immediately and rescued Showkat Ahmad and Zahid Ahmad from the burning truck and rushed them to a hospital in Udhampur while driver Rameez Ahmad managed to escape unhurt. The two injured were later shifted to Jammu for specialised treatment, he added.
The entire opposition, however, expressed dissatisfaction at the government response and staged a walkout. National Conference general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar said the government “lacks courage” to admit that the accused belonged to the ruling BJP. Independent Langate MLA Engineer Abdul Rashid called the accused “terrorists” and demanded strict action against them.
The Jammu and Kashmir police have registered a case of attempt to murder against the attackers.
The attack came as the state remained tense over a recent order by the Jammu wing of the high court to implement a ban on the sale and consumption of bovines. The issue has created a divide between Hindu-dominated Jammu and Muslim-majority Kashmir.
The Supreme Court, however, has stayed the order for two months and asked the chief justice of the high court to form a committee to review the beef slaughter law. The HC formed a special bench for the same on Saturday.