February 2001 News

Sikhs take to streets to protest killings, want protection

4 February 2001
The Indian Express

Srinagar: Members of the Sikh community today took to the streets of Srinagar and Baramulla to protest the killing of six Sikhs by unidentified gunmen at Mahjoor Nagar on Saturday evening. An indefinite curfew may have been imposed; yet, hundreds of Sikhs demonstrated in Jawaharnagar, Ram Bagh and Mahjoor Nagar. Police prevented a group of youth from ransacking shops near Rambagh. The Sikhs were demanding the handing over of the victims" bodies, which were lying at Srinagar's Police Control Room since Saturday night. Some wanted the bodies to be handed over to them in the presence of a union minister. They were angry with Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah for not having visited the spot. The bodies were later handed over to the relatives at 3.30 p.m. They were cremated at the Mahjoor Nagar Gurudwara. Disturbances continued throughout the day: irate members erected barricades and pelted stones on traffic at Nanak Bhawan, Chattipadhshai, Singhbagh and Singpora localities adjacent to the northern township of Kashmir. The curfew wasn"t relaxed for a minute throughout the day. A police officer said there was likely to be no let-up in the curfew. Shahid Iftikhar, deputy commissioner, Srinagar, said, "We are monitoring the situation and apart from minor incidents of violence, things are under control." If the situation improved, the curfew would be relaxed on Monday for a few hours, he added. Meanwhile, anxious relatives and friends thronged the SMHS hospital to enquire after the five injured. On one bed at the Emergency ward, Satinder Kaur, who lost her son Sumit Pal Singh yesterday, kept murmuring his name before falling unconscious. Her husband Kewalnain Singh said two gun-toting men sporting black jackets reached the Mehjoor Nagar main chowk and opened fire on them for about five to 10 minutes. "There was total chaos as people started running for their lives. I fell unconscious, and found myself here," he said, asking "Where's Sumit?" A doctor said the couple does not know their son is died. Sikh families are demanding security and compensation, and police sources claim some of them are thinking of moving out of Kashmir. A spokesperson of the Hurriyat Conference termed the killing as a grisly act. "Our Sikh brothers should not overreact and should see the hidden role of various agencies working in Kashmir to communalise the situation," read a Hurriyat statement. Javid Mir, JKLF vice-chairperson, called the killings a conspiracy to pit two communities against one another.


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