By Auqib Javeed
SRINAGAR – Top Muslim religious clerks, civil society members of Kashmir have condemned the targeted killings of non-Muslims at the hands of suspected militants in recent weeks and have urged authorities to probe these killings.
On the evening of October 17, two more non-local labourers were killed and another injured when suspected militants fired upon them in the Kulgam district of south Kashmir. A day before on October 16, two non-local labourers were shot dead in Srinagar and South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
With the killing of two non-local labourers yesterday evening, the toll of targetted civilian killings in Kashmir – most of them non-locals has reached eleven.
Amid the killing spree, the members of the majority Muslim community have started to reach out to their non-Muslim brethren to show solidarity.
Reacting to the killings, Dr Kamal Ahmad Farooqi, the Imam (Muslim religious leader) of the revered shrine of Dargah Hazratbal told TwoCircles.net that “Islam doesn’t allow the killing of any innocent.”
“It is mentioned in the Holy Quran that whosoever killed any innocent, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind,” Dr Farooqi said.
Dr Farooqi, however, maintained that they need to know who is carrying out this killing and in whose direction it is being done.
“The authorities should probe it and we shouldn’t draw any wrong conclusion and blame any particular group,” he told TwoCircles.net.
Qazi Shams, another religious clerk from Srinagar told TwoCircles.net that whosoever is doing it (killing civilians) “should be condemned.”
“It is time for the stakeholders to sit and resolve the Kashmir conflict which is the root cause of all the things happening here,” he told TwoCircles.net.
Kashmir’s top religious figures also condemned the recent targeted killings of Kashmiri Pandits, and said they “stand with the minority community in this time of grief.”
On October 7, Kashmir’s Grand Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam expressed shock and grief over the spate of innocent killings of civilians in Kashmir and stated that it was unfortunate that members of a particular community are being targeted.
While condemning the civilian killings, he said that no religion allows the killing of innocent civilians and that this will lead to nowhere.
Mufti Nasir extended solidarity and sympathies with the families of all those killed in the past few days stating that Islam prohibits attacking unarmed persons. “Muslim community of Kashmir stand with the bereaved families at this hour of grief and shock,” he said.
Earlier, the Mirwaiz Kashmir, Umer Farooq denounced the three civilian killings in Kashmir, including of famous chemist ML Bindroo.
It may be noted that suspected militants on October 5 shot dead three persons including famous chemist ML Bindroo.
Just two days after the killing, suspected militants struck again in Srinagar—the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir and shot dead two teachers inside a school. Both the teachers were non-Muslims.
The targeted killing of the teachers drew widespread condemnation, across Kashmir. TwoCircles.net has reported how several people from the minority community migrated to other states of the country due to fear.
To show solidarity, Muslims of the valley are reaching out to their non-Muslim brethren.
According to reports, several Kashmiri Muslims have been visiting the houses of Pandits particularly in Srinagar city—where killings took place.
On October 8, two mosques from Srinagar’s downtown (old city) during Friday sermons appealed to attendees to stand with minorities & ensure they feel confident of majority communities support. The move was welcomed by the minorities and is gaining momentum day by day.
“The trend of the appeal was followed by 7 more mosques in Srinagar but we are hopeful others from the rest of Kashmir will follow it and appeal to the majority community to stand with us,” Sanjay Tikoo, a Kashmir Pandit told TwoCircles.net.
Tickoo, who heads Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS)—an organisation that primarily addresses the concerns of Kashmiri Pandits that stayed back in the valley said that the many Muslims are visiting the houses of Pandits and assuring them that they will stand by them always.
“The minorities have started getting a sense of security but I think more needs to be done and people from the majority community should come forward to condemn this,” Tickoo said.
On October 8, the ‘Group of Concerned Citizens’, a non-political civil society group comprising academicians, businessmen, advocates, scientists, former judges, civil servants etc. expressed deep anguish and shock over the spate of killings.
While empathizing with victim families and offering them condolences, the Group sought a time-bound judicial probe into these “dastardly killings.”
They also have urged the government to “unmask” the unknown murderers and bring them to justice at the earliest. The Group has expressed solidarity with the victims’ families and assured them full moral support.
“We assured full support to efforts made at any level for creating and nurturing an atmosphere of amity between different communities living in the Valley,” they said.
On October 13, over 28 trade bodies, civil society members met with Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir and Kashmir police chief in Srinagar. The members unanimously condemned innocent killings and expressed solidarity with the victims’ families.
At the outset, participants of the meeting observed one minute of silence to remember those innocent civilians killed in the Valley and prayed for eternal peace to their souls besides paying homage to their families.
The representatives said that they are aggrieved over the loss of civilians and stated that they as a single family of Kashmir express solidarity with all the families that have lost their loved ones.
They all remembered famous Makhan Lal Bindroo, Principal Satinder Kour and all others who were killed in the latest spree of attacks in Srinagar and other areas.
On the occasion, the IGP said that civil society has to come forward to condemn and criticize such killing of innocent people and stressed that we all have to work together to avert such incidents.
Sandeep Koul, a Kashmir Pandit from Srinagar told TwoCircles.net that he received several phone calls, messages from his Muslim friends and neighbours after the killings.
“They said we are with you and will stand by you in these testing times. I felt so good and I hope this will continue,” Koul said.
All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC) chairman Jagmohan Singh Raina told TwoCircles.net that the killings were part of the conspiracy to create a wedge between various communities. “Some people want to divide us and exploit the situation for their ulterior motives,” Raina said.
He further added that “Muslims have always stood with the minorities in Kashmir.”
“I received condolences messages from many top religious figures including Mirwaiz Kashmir—Umar Farooq, Grand Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam and many others,” he said.
This story first appeared on twocircles.net