SRINAGAR, Sept 6: Protests have erupted in Palpora village of Handwara in northern Kashmir’s Kupwara district after desecration of a mosque and the holy Quran, witnesses say, the seventh such incident at holy places in the Muslim-majority region in less than three months.
Angry protestors in the village, more than 70 kms from capital Srinagar, took to streets chanting slogans after finding faeces smeared on the inside walls of the mosque and also on the holy books.
“When we went for Zuhur (Afternoon prayers) we found human soil on the walls and also on the Quran shareef,” said a witness, Muhammad Ramzan on Thursday.
Protests are still going on although the local administration alongwith senior police officials tried to pacify tempers.
“Senior police officers of the district are monitoring the situation on the spot. Police is investigating and trying to track down these unknown miscreants,” a police spokesperson said.
This is the seventh incident of desecration at religious places like shrines or mosques in Kashmir. People have been alleging the incidents were part of a design by divisive elements trying to foment trouble in the region, where faith in shrines runs deep among worshippers.
On July 22, mosque in central Kashmir’s Wohangam village of Beerwah Tehsil, some 25 km from Srinagar, was set ablaze around midnight on Sunday triggering protests in the area.
Only a week earlier that month, a 300-year-old shrine of Baba Haneefudin was destroyed in a mysterious fire in central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
On June 25, Kashmir shut in mourning for four days after the centuries-old shrine of Iranian saint Sheikh Syed Abdul Qadir Geelani or Dastgeer Sahab – as the saint is locally called – was gutted in fire in old city of Srinagar.
Four days later on June 29 protests erupted in outskirts of Srinagar city after news spread of an alleged attempt to set fire and desecration of Quran and a relic. The incident took place at a local Imam Bargah in Mirgund area bordering the volatile Baramulla district in North Kashmir.
Separatist leaders termed the attacks as part of a ‘big conspiracy’.
“Government has not only failed in probing these incidents but is also busy stoking the fires. They seem to be hell-bent at creating a divide among the Muslims to derail the ongoing freedom movement,” hard-line separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said.
After the series of incidents, authorities directed the police to increase the security cover around all religious places in the valley and also to tighten the night vigils.
State’s Law Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar had said that authorities were investigating into the cases.
“These could be isolated incidents but sabotage cannot be ruled out by any chance,” he had said.