Cow-carcass Rumour Fuels J&K Flare-up

10 October 2015
The Telegraph (Kolkata)
Muzaffar Raina

Srinagar: A 'petrol bomb' attack on a Kashmiri truck in Jammu, fuelled by rumours of cow slaughter in the locality, left the driver's two helpers grievously burnt last night. Five persons have been arrested and three are in hiding, district magistrate Shahid Iqbal Chowdhary said in Udhampur, where the highway attack took place. 'There was no cow slaughter in the area. The carcass of a cow was found somewhere but the animal had died a natural death,' he said. Two more cow carcasses were found elsewhere in the Jammu region. According to truck driver Rameez Ahmad Bhat, who was unhurt, the attackers struck while the truckers were sleeping. He said the gang broke the truck's window and lobbed the petrol bomb - a bottle of petrol with a burning wick at its mouth. They then allegedly splashed petrol on Showkat Ahmad and Zahid Ahmad when they tried to flee. Both the injured have been admitted to a Jammu hospital. Bhat was able to put out the fire, saving the truck. The Assembly in Srinagar was in uproar over the incident today. Rural development minister Abdul Haq scotched rumours that the driver had died. 'The driver is safe,' he told fellow lawmakers. State horticulture minister Abdul Rehman Bhat Veeri told the state's upper House that a nearby police patrol had rescued the two injured helpers, who are both from Anantnag in south Kashmir. Veeri identified three of the five persons arrested as Bal Bahadur Singh, Sandoor Singh and Suneet Singh. 'An FIR has been registered under the Explosive Substances Act,' he said. Police have also slapped attempt-to-murder charges on the accused. Officers said footage from a CCTV - cameras have been placed at various spots along the Srinagar-Jammu highway - had helped them catch two of the accused, who then gave information on six others. The truck, which was travelling from Jammu to Srinagar, had halted at the Shiv Nagar area in Udhampur, about 65km from Jammu city, because protesters had called a Jammu shutdown today over the discovery of the carcasses. Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani joined the wide condemnation of the attack, terming it 'terrorism by communal forces'. 'Jammu and Kashmir is directly ruled by fanatical and ill-minded people who openly express their hatred against Muslims,' he said. Four Kashmiri trade bodies - the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Kashmir Economic Alliance, Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir and the Kashmir Traders and Manufacturer Federation - met today and asked the state administration to curb such incidents. 'We urge economic, social and political representatives of the Jammu region to come forward and honestly combat such disruptive elements or else there can be worse ramifications for everybody,' a release said. 'We also appeal to the general public of the state to fight the likelihood of an economic blockade, which such disruptive elements are planning.'