Communal violence broke out in Bhaderwah town of Doda district on Thursday morning as the killing of a man triggered protests in the area. While the victim’s family claimed he was targeted on suspicion of being involved in cattle smuggling, the Doda district administration ruled out cow vigilantism as the reason behind the murder.
According to sources, Naeem Ahmad Shah (50), a resident of Qilla Mohalla in Bhaderwah, was walking home from Basti village with two others, when he was shot by some people at Nalthi bridge around 2 am on Thursday.
Quoting one of the men accompanying Shah, identified as Yakir Hussain, sources said when the men reached near Nalthi bridge, they noticed some people hiding behind the bushes. These people allegedly started abusing them and accused them of being cattle smugglers.
One of the men accompanying Shah reportedly switched on a torch to show that they were taking mules, not cows. But someone fired from behind the bushes, killing Shah on the spot. Hussain and the other man managed to flee to Qilla Mohalla.
Later, the residents of Qilla Mohalla staged protests at Nalthi bridge. They refused to take Shah’s body till the accused were arrested. The protests continued for nearly four hours, and the body was finally taken after police and security forces reached the spot around 7 am and detained over half-a-dozen people.
At Qilla Mohalla, women protesters surrounded the police station and started pelting stones. The police and paramilitary forces lobbed teargas shells and fired some warning shots in the air.
The situation deteriorated as the protesters marched towards Seri Bazar area, a Muslim-dominated area. They damaged nearly a dozen vehicles and pelted stones on houses occupied by the other community.
The administration then called in the Army and imposed curfew. The district administration later convened a meeting of prominent people from both communities.
Meanwhile, IGP Jammu Zone, M K Sinha, told PTI that two suspects had been arrested and five others had been detained. He said the reason behind the firing was being investigated.