Srinagar: Protesting the attacks on Kashmiri Muslims in Jammu and other parts of India following the Pulwama attack, the Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Association (KTMA) and Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industries held a peaceful protest at the historic Ghanta Ghar (Clock Tower) in Lal Chowk and called for Kashmir Bandh on Sunday.
At 3 p.m on Saturday an abrupt shutdown was called for in the heart of the city in Srinagar. All shops were closed and traders and manufacturers assembled in the premises of Ganta Ghar, raising slogans seeking a stop to attacks on Kashmiris in various states.
The protestors marched toward Press Enclave and raised slogans such as Jammu Ke Musalmano Hum Tumhare Saath, Bharat K Musalmanoo Hum Tumhare Saath ( We are With Jammu's and Indian Muslims). They demanded a strict action against mobs who reportedly attacked people in many cities across the country and vandalised their belongings.
KTM has called for complete shutdown on Sunday across the valley to express solidarity with the victims. Traders asked the government to ensure the safety of Kashmiris in Jammu and outside.
Meanwhile, after an all-party meeting in Delhi, an official told reporters that an advisory had been issued asking states to ensure the safety of all Kashmiris, the Times of India reported.
Speaking to NewsClick, the Chief Organiser of KTMA, Mohmmad Lateef, said that growing attacks on Kashmiris was an attack on communal harmony which can’t be tolerated at any cost. Government must look in to the matter and take action against the culprits.
He said Jammu and Kashmir was known for communal harmony, brotherhood and hospitality which was in danger due to these attacks, adding that if the government failed to take action they would go for a prolonged strike.
After the suicide car bomb attack killing at least 40 CRPF troopers (the toll may have risen), social networking sites were flooded with statements of condolences, as well as hot debates sparking communal angst. At many places such as Uttarakhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Jammu, Kashmiri students and shopkeepers are facing a backlash.
Even as Kashmiris are facing a backlash in various cities, people in the Valley are still trying to fathom what the suicide bomb attack in Pulwama was all about.
Ghulam Mohammad Wagay, a surrendered militant from Chadoora, an area of Budgam district, while speaking to NewsClick termed the attack on CRPF as “gory and inhuman”. He said he had never seen such an attack in his life, adding that the fight with security forces in an encounter was completely different. “Attacking a cadre even when they are not prepared to fight has changed the whole context of the attack”, he added.
“I have fought many encounters during the 1990s. Both parties, militants and forces during the encounter, are prepared to kill or get killed. But such attacks make it difficult to understand what the attack is all about,” said Rasool, who was an active militant affiliated with Hizbul Mujahedeen during the 1990s and surrendered to Border Security Force in January 2001.