Mosque In Ganderbal Sealed Off After Group Clashes, One Killed

Mosque In Ganderbal Sealed Off After Group Clashes, One Killed

12 August 2012
Mail Today
Naseer Ganai

Srinagar: In a rare instance, a mosque in North Kashmir district of Ganderbal has been sealed off by the state administration following a group clash in the area last week which led to the murder of 20-year-old youth Shabir Ahmad Bhat. 'We have apprehensions that something serious can happen after the recent murder. We have sealed off the mosque for the time being,' said a police official. On August 6, Bhat was killed and another person injured when an argument between two groups in the mosque at Sendbal village turned violent. The police have arrested local Sarpanch Muhammad Subhan Wani, who belongs to the National Conference, on charges of murder. 'I along with my son Shabir went to the mosque to offer prayers. There are two groups in the village. We would pray separately. When we went to pray in the mosque, a group led by the sarpanch hit my son on his head. He succumbed in hospital,' said Ghulam Nabi Bhat, 42. He said the sarpanch did not allow his son to enter the mosque and when Shabir argued, the sarpanch and his men attacked him. The police said the fight started over a loudspeaker of the mosque. The slain youth was against using of loudspeaker which led to the fight. Ghulam Nabi Bhat rejects the 'loudspeaker theory.' 'My son was running a seminary along with other boys of the village and he was associated with Jamaat-e-Islami. The sarpanch did not approve of it and would often threaten us. The tension was simmering for long,' he said. One of largest religious organisations, Jamaat-e-Islami, has already condemned the killing. It accused the ruling National Conference of encouraging the sarpanch to attack the youth. The hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has accused the ruling NC of patronising such elements. 'The NC has history of attacking Jamaat-e-Islami cadres,' said Geelani. The NC, however, described the allegations as mere speculations. The police said the murder should be looked into larger context of the changing situation in Kashmir with both Sufis and Wahabis trying to assert their ideologies. 'In 23 years of militancy changes took place on the ground. Now when the militancy is waning in the state, different forces try to assert themselves,' said a police official. He said it was more of a social issue rather than a political issue. 'In recent past this is first such murder over a religious issue in the Valley, it deserves a greater study to understand how society has changed over the years,' the official said.