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For 30 years in Kashmir, many unholy acts in the holy month of Ramzan

Children doing ablution fat Srinagar’s jama masjid on first Friday of Ramzan (Pics: Basit Zargar)

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz/Srinagar

In the last 6 years, two high-profile killings by the terrorists or their frenzied followers have been widely condemned in Kashmir. Both happened in the holy month of Ramazan—around the holiest days and nights of the Lailatul Qadr, the last Friday of the month, and Eid-ul-Fitr.

On 22 June 2017, it was the middle of the Lailatul Qadr—the night of seeking forgiveness for sins, the auspicious night whose worship has been described as “better than the worship of 1,000 months” by Quran – when Deputy Superintendent of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, Mohammad Ayub Pandit, was lynched to death by a mob at Jamia Masjid in Srinagar.

The J&K Police had as usual deployed Pandit, a resident of the Khanyar neighbourhood, for security duty at the grand mosque in downtown Srinagar. 

In coordination with the mosque management controlled by the cleric-politician Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the separatist Hurriyat Conference, Pandit was on duty in civvies. Past midnight, some people suspected him to be from the paramilitary CRPF or an intelligence agency.

Even as Pandit shouted that he was on security duty at the mosque, he was subjected to a body search. Sensing trouble, he opened fire with his pistol. He fired in the air to maintain the sanctity of the occasion. 

The frenzied mob overpowered him and lynched him to death after beating him with clubs, fists, and stones for half an hour. His head was smashed, bones broken, vital organs ruptured.

The same auspicious days next year marked the death of the journalist Shujaat Bukhari. On the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr, on 14 June 2018, two gunmen showered bullets on Bukhari from their AK-47 rifles when he was sitting in his car to catch up with his family at the Iftaar. Bukhari, along with his two personal security officers, died on the spot outside his office at Srinagar.

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq delivering his sermon at Jama Masjid on first friday of Ramzan

However, these two incidents are not exceptions and aberrations of three decades of terrorism in Kashmir. The terrorists and their apologists justified the violence in the holy month with the argument that five of the Islamic holy wars, including those of Badar and Makkah, had been fought in Ramzan.

It was during Ramzan that Islamic scholar and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Kashmir, Prof. Mushirul Haq, was executed in captivity in 1990. On 6 April 1990, Prof. Mushirul Haq was abducted from Hazratbal along with his private secretary Abdul Gani Zargar.

The militants of “Jammu and Kashmir Students Liberation Front”—which later assumed the titles of Ikhwanul Muslimeen and J&K Islamic Front—held Prof. Haq and Zargar in its captivity and demanded the release of a number of their detained associates. 

They gunned down them and dropped their bodies on the outskirts of Srinagar on 10 April 1990.

On one of the days of Ramzan in 1991, two Muslim CRPF men were targeted with a hand grenade when they were buying chicken for their Iftaar, the time of breaking the day’s fast, at a marketplace in Budgam. Both died.

In 2020, constables Rana Mondal and Zia-ul-Haq of the BSF 35th battalion were shot dead near Pandach, outskirts of Srinagar, when they were buying dates and chicken for their Iftaar.

People praying at Jama Masjid, downtown Srinagar

On 8 October 2006, dental surgeon Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Shah was kidnapped from his residential area of Handwara and tortured for hours in an orchard on the outskirts of Sopore in northern Kashmir. His captors had slit his throat with surgical blades.

Civilian Nazir Ahmad Mir was grabbed inside a village mosque and dragged out while he was busy in his late evening prayers after Iftaar at Sogam in Kupwara district. A foreign terrorist held his head; another held his legs. Their third accomplice chopped off Mir’s head with a butcher’s cleaver at the entrance of the mosque.

Years later, militants barged into a mosque at Gotapora Soibug in Budgam and shot dead a civilian who was engrossed in his Taraveeh prayers.

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Kashmir’s most horrible communal massacre was also enacted on the holiest night of the Lailatul Qadr. On 25 January 1998, a group of gunmen brandishing their AK-47 rifles swooped on the village Wandhama in Ganderbal. They massacred 23 Kashmiri Pandits, including several women and children while all local Muslims were busy with the nightlong prayers at the local mosque.

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