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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Communal tension: Curfew continues in J&K’s Kishtwar, Bhaderwah

Internet services in the Chenab Valley remained suspended for the second day. People in Rajouri and Poonch observed a bandh seeking the arrest of those who extended support to former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma who was suspended for her comments against Prophet Mohammed.

Written by Arun Sharma | Jammu |
June 11, 2022 5:53:35 pm
People stage a protest over the controversial remarks made by two now-suspended BJP leaders about Prophet Mohammad, at Bhaderwah in Doda district, Friday, June 10, 2022. (PTI Photo)

Curfew continued in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar and adjoining Doda district’s Bhaderwah town without any relaxation, while restrictions on assembly of four or more people, under provisions of section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), remained in force for the second day on Saturday in Ramban and remaining parts of Doda district after derogatory comments were made by people belonging to two communities hurting religious sentiments on both sides.

Internet services in the entire Chenab Valley, comprising Kishtwar, Doda and Ramban districts, also remained suspended for the second day.

Though there has been no untoward incident, people in border Rajouri and Poonch districts observed a bandh seeking the arrest of all those who extended their support to former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma who was suspended for her comments against Prophet Mohammed. While members of both communities observed the bandh in Poonch town, it was restricted to the majority community in Rajouri district.

The trouble started in Bhaderwah town where members of a community were holding a demonstration on Thursday evening demanding the arrest of three people, including J&K Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) general secretary Ashish Sharma, for allegedly extending support to Nupur Sharma on social media. However, while addressing the protesters, one of the speakers used derogatory language against members of the minority community in the region.

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Irked over the remarks, a Class 9 student from the minority community posted a photograph of the Prophet and his wife Aisha along with some comments on Facebook the same evening. Screenshots of the post spread like wildfire in Bhaderwah town with members of the majority community coming out on the streets demanding the arrest of the person behind the social media post.

The members of the minority community too started holding demonstrations seeking to apprehend the persons who made derogatory comments against them. Sensing trouble, the administration deployed reinforcements of police and Central Armed Police Forces and imposed a curfew in the town. Additional reinforcements were deployed and CrPC section 144 imposed in remaining parts of Doda district.

The administration in adjoining Kishtwar too imposed a curfew in the district around 11 pm on Thursday as a precautionary measure. In Ramban district, which is also part of the Chenab Valley region, the administration imposed restrictions under section 144 of the CrPC.

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Sources said tension was already prevalent in the Chenab Valley region over the past few days in view of reports of alleged vandalism at a temple near Kailash Kund in Bhaderwah and subsequent Facebook posts by some people extending their support to Nupur Sharma. In both incidents, the police registered separate FIRs and set up special investigation teams.

The curfew and restrictions in the Chenab Valley region have come at a time when the Kashmir Valley, ahead of the 43-day long Amarnath yatra beginning June 30, is witnessing a migration by minority community employees, including Kashmiri Pandits, to Jammu in view of targeted killings by militants. Nine people from the minority community, including Pandits, have been killed by militants in Kashmir since May 1.

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First published on: 11-06-2022 at 05:53:35 pm
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