Clashes In Curfew-Bound Zanskar

‘Budhist Body Enforced Social Boycott After 22 Embraced Islam’

Srinagar – Three persons including a tehsildar were injured in Zanskar area of Kargil district where indefinite curfew was clamped following communal clashes between Muslims and Buddhists over the conversion of 22 Budhists to Islam in October last. The injured are being flown to Srinagar for treatment, reports said. 

While senior administration and police officials are camping at Padam, headquarters of the remote tehsil, over 300 km from the district place, and monitoring the situation amid palpable tension, reinforcements are being rushed to the area from Srinagar. The situation is under control, police claimed.

Sources said several tourists were stranded in hotels and huts in the mountainous area which attracts adventurers from around the world.

According to reports, about half a dozen Budhist families – five from Padam and one from a nearby village, Zangla – comprising 26 members had embraced Islam in the local Jamia Masjid on the last Friday of September last. Since then, communal tension has prevailed in the area. The Zangla family has allegedly been forced to return to the Budhist fold.

Following the incident, the Zanskar Budhist Association enforced a social boycott against the minority Muslim community. Since then members of two communities do not talk to each other while the majority Budhist community does not visit Muslim shops or use the vehicles owned by the minority community. The Budhist contractors have stopped work in Muslim areas and thrown out Muslim laborers.

To aggravate the situation, reports said the local administration being dominated by Budhists has failed to defuse the tension. Most officials, including the SDM, naib tehsildar, the SHO and the executive engineer,are Bodhs, were allegedly playing a partisan role in the situation.

The trouble started when some families of the converts, who had fled from their homes and hearths following the social boycott and alleged harassment by the majority community backed by officials, returned to their homes.

Soon after, members of the majority Budhist community attacked and ransacked Muslim houses triggering clashes between the two communities in which half a dozen Muslims, including an aged woman, were injured. However, the minority community repulsed the attacks.

To prevent escalation of trouble, authorities promptly clamped indefinite curfew in the area on Tuesday afternoon. They also jammed the telecommunication services to prevent rumor-mongering by interested elements. On the second day Wednesday, the curfew was enforced strictly and nobody was allowed to move out.

Meanwhile, scores of Muslims from Zanskar area presently camping in the summer capital staged a demonstration in the Press Enclave here to protest the alleged harassment of their community by the majority Budhists in the wake of last month’s conversions. They urged the government to prevent further atrocities against Muslims in the area.  

(With inputs from Agencies)

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