Protests break out over death of man attacked in Udhampur, over cow slaughter rumors

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Protests have broken out in South Kashmir’s Batengo village, after the death and subsequent funeral of a truck driver, Zahib Ahmed Bhat, over alleged rumors of cow slaughter. The young man finally succumbed to his injuries, 10 days after his truck was attacked with a petrol bomb, in Udhampur. Zahid’s last rites were conducted in his native Batengo village.

Following the outbreak of protests, curfew like restrictions have been imposed in Anantnag, Bijbehara, Pulwama, and 6 police station areas in Srinagar, which experienced protests on both Sunday, and Monday.

Paramilitary forces, police, as well as army personnel have been placed along the Jammu – Srinagar highway, to avoid clashes; the national highway remains closed, today, as protesters blocked the route in Anantnag. Furthermore, railways authorities have suspended connection between northern and southern Kashmir, after protestors blocked the tracks.

In Batengo village, situated 52 kilometers from Srinagar, violent protests broke out after Zahid’s funeral was over, despite the heavy presence of the police force, in the area. The police made use of batons, along with tear gas, and pepper gas shells, to bring the situation under control.  Protesters however, were undeterred, and continued their outburst, even despite of the curfew restrictions, and rains.

Zahid Ahmed Bhat, 19, was admitted in Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital, after having suffered from 70% burns as a result of the petrol bomb attack. After succumbing to his injuries on Sunday, the 19 year old’s body was flown in to Srinagar, from Delhi, and then taken to his native village of Batengo, in Anantnag, where it was taken in a procession from his residence to the graveyard, amid slogans of ‘azadi’.

The Jammu and Kashmir cabinet, along with the state’s chief minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, have condemned the attack on the 19 year old truck driver. A resolution was passed by the cabinet, condemning the attack, and praising the police for their efforts in controlling the situation.

An official spokesperson said that, “The Cabinet adopted the resolution in one voice. Later two minutes’ silence was observed as a mark of respect for the departed soul.”

As compensation, the government has decided to award Ahmed’s family with 5 lakh rupees, along with a government job to one of his relatives.

Due to the current state of unrest, commercial establishments, across the valley, have been shut down, due to the protests, and subsequent curfew like restrictions; given the current situation, public, and private transport is off the roads as well.

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