Zanskar Muslims Decry Communal Violence

Zanskar Muslims Decry Communal Violence

25 October 2012
Rising Kashmir
Wasim Khalid

Srinagar: The Muslims of Zanskar, Ladakh have accused the majority population of harassing them and resorting to riots against them. They said two members of the minority community were critically injured in attacks and have been shifted to Srinagar hospital for specialized treatment. “The violence erupted after 22 members of four families of Buddhists embraced Islam. All of them belonged to lower caste of Buddhists and were facing extreme discrimination,” Manzoor Wani, a resident of Padum Zanskar told Rising Kashmir. He said the conversion infuriated the Buddhist population, who wanted them to revert back to Buddhism. “The Buddhist mobs attacked the houses of converted persons and ransacked their homes. When Muslim tried to protect them, they too were attacked,” Wani said. Another resident of Zansakar Riyaz A Khan, currently pursuing Masters degree in Kashmir University, said the administration comprising Tehsildar, Chief Councilor of Zanskar and local police sided with the Buddhist community and allowed them to perpetrate violence against the Muslims, who are in minority in Zanskar. He alleged that administration did nothing to stop anti-Muslim riots, which have engulfed the region since September 25. Khan said curfew was imposed several times in the region. “However, once the curfew was lifted and policemen withdrawn, Buddhists again indulged in riots and attacked Muslim worshippers”. The minority community of Zanskar staged protests in Lal Chowk, here today and demanded immediate halt to violence. The protest was led by MLA Langate Sheikh Abdur Rashid. The protestors were chanting slogans against “Buddhists communalists” and “administration”. Some of the protestors were carrying placards, which read, “Zanskar Muslims are crying for Justice” and “Kargil administration Shame Shame”. The protesters said the situation was so tense that authorities have snapped all communications in the area from last two days. “We don’t know what is happening there right now. I am worried about my family,” said a protester, who studies at Islamic university. He said violence against Muslims is increasing and authorities are not taking measures to stop attack on the community members. Representative of minority community of Zanskar in Kashmir, Haji Ahmadullah said scores of houses belonging to Muslims were damaged and scores of their community members were beaten. “The anti-Muslim riots are continuing despite imposition of curfew,” he said. He said Muslim population in Zanskar is 1000 while the Buddhist population is 20,000. He said two of the critically injured in riots have been hospitalized in SKIMS. “One Biba Amina Bibi, 60, is critical while Mohammad Shafi had a serious jaw injury”. The hospital authorities said both the patients were out of danger. Meanwhile, authorities said the situation was under control and curfew relaxation period passed of peacefully. “No violence has erupted from past three days,” Officer on special duty to Div Com Kashmir, Amir Ali said. He said the administration is talking to representatives of both the communities and trying to defuse tension. “We have also appealed people not to heed to rumor mongering”. Police sources said situation in Zanskar was under control and curfew continues in the area. However, despite repeated attempts, DC Kargil N Raju could not be contacted.