Anniversary: Shopian shuts, seeks justice

SHOPIAN: Normal life across South Kashmir’s Shopian district  was disrupted on Friday due to a strike called by Hurriyat Conference G on the fifth anniversary of double rape and murder of two women of Bongam Shopian in 2009 allegedly at the hands of security forces.

All shops, business establishments, and offices remained closed throughout the day while as traffic was off the roads as the town wore a deserted look.

The authorities deployed heavy contingents of police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on roads in Shopian to thwart any protest demonstration. Scores of Government Forces armoured vehicles were seen flag marching in the town. Eyewitnesses  that people were forced to remain indoor while CRPF and police used concertina wires to restrict the movement of the people.

On May 29, 2009, Asiya Jan (17) and her pregnant sister-in-law, Neelofar (22), left for their orchard at Degan Batpora village of Shopian. They did not turn and next day their bodies were found in a stream at some distance from police and CRPF camps. The family was told by a neighbor that the duo had left for home just when a forces patrolling party was passing through the area.

Locals alleged the duo was raped and murdered by men in uniform. They also accused the state government and police of hiding facts and shielding the culprits. The incident was followed by an unprecedented campaign for justice launched by the people of Shopian under the banner of Majlis-e-Mashawarat and the Shopian Bar Association. The incident triggered widespread protests for weeks together across the valley and several youth were killed in police and CRPF firing on the protestors.

Amidst public outcry, the state government on June 3, 2009, appointed a Commission headed by Justice Muzaffar Ahmad Jan to investigate the case. The panel submitted a 400-page report to the government in which it called for more investigation into the role of security force personnel into the incident.

Later the case was investigated by central investigation agency CBI and it concluded that the two women were not raped and murdered but were owned, a theory which the locals and people in general across the valley are not ready to buy.

Kashmiri people alleged that CBI was clearly guided by a misplaced sense of justice: ignore the wrong and punish the whistleblowers. 

Meanwhile, shortly after Friday prayers, people took to streets in the interiors of the town and amid pro-freedom slogans demanded stern punishment for those who raped and killed Asiya and Neelofar. Peaceful processions were taken out at different places in Shopian. A procession was taken out from Markazi Jamia Masjid Shopian that was led by chairman Hurriyat Conference JK, Shabir Ahmed Shah. Shah along with his supporters according to reports had arrived in Shopian on Thursday night.

Hurriyat Chairman Syed Ali Geelani adessed the people over phone. He said that the Shopain incident was a serious attack against the collective conscience of people of Jammu and Kashmir and people must raise the voice against the ‘atrocities’ committed by government forces.

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