11:30 - August 22, 2008
News ID: 1679199
--Hundreds of Muslim homes and shops have been burnt to ashes by Hindu mobs in different areas of Jammu in recent weeks, forcing Muslim families to migrate to safe places.
"More than three hundred families from Jammu and its adjoining areas migrated to safer places," an official told, requesting anonymity.

Muslim houses and shops were attacked and looted by Hindu mobs in the areas of Akhnoor, Samba and Kishtwar in Jammu.

In Kishtwar, the local government says 72 Muslim houses and few shops were burnt down by Hindu protestors.

"They first throw stones on my house and then stormed inside," said Mohammad Rafiq Doolwal, recalling the August 12 attack by Hindus.

The attackers then looted the Muslim man's shop and set his house afire.

The attacks first started when Hindu mobs pelted stones on a Muslim burial procession of protestors killed by Indian police in Kashmir.

The unrest, triggered by the local government's decision in June to donate local land to a Hindu pilgrimage trust, highlighted Muslims' growing frustration and revived independence calls.

The Himalayan religion of Kashmir is divided into two parts and ruled by India and Pakistan, which have fought two of their three wars since the 1947 independence over the region.

Pakistan and the UN back the right of the Kashmir people for self-determination, an option opposed by New Delhi.

Police Accused

Many Muslims accuse police of siding with Hindu extremists in attacking Muslims.

"We want to know who lob grenade on Muslim procession and then fire indiscriminately," said Gazi, who was injured when police opened fire.

At least two Muslims were killed and 50 others injured, including five Hindus, in police firing.

Gazi said a video taken by a local journalist shows Special Task Force (STF) members were openly supporting Hindus and assisting them in pelting stones at Muslims.

Gazanfar Iqbal Qazi, a young Muslim, was also shot by police.

"I received bullet injury after police opened fire on Muslims and later I was shifted to hospital," he said, adding that his shop was also set ablaze by Hindus.

Qazi blamed police and the civil administration for triggering attacks on Muslim properties.

He said the burial procession was going very smoothly when it was attacked by some Hindus while marching through the Hindu-majority Hardyal Chowk area.

"We even informed police but they took it lightly and in couple of minutes it took an ugly turn when Hindus stormed Muslim areas and set about six houses and dozens of shops belonging to Muslims on fire."

The All India Muslim Majlis-Mushawarat (AIMMM), the umbrella body of Indian Muslim organizations, had condemned the "carnage" committed by armed forces against peaceful Muslim processions in Jammu and Kashmir.

It pressed for an investigation into the incidents and demanded the prosecution of officers and soldiers responsible for the "bloodbaths."


In Akhnoor, Hindu extremists hoisted a tri-color flag over a local mosque in Jorain area.

They also set ablaze nearly 20 Muslim houses in Samba area and six others in Barbarian.

"Not only this, they also tried to loot five shops belonging to Muslims who are in minority with handful of houses in the locality," said Ashiq Hussian Khan, Shiite Federation President.

Jammu and Samba is home to 1.36 million Hindus against only 90,272 Muslims.

Bashir Ahmad Chowdhary said Hindu extremists have terrified his family.

"I along with my family were dragged out of the house and beaten by the mob," he recalls.

"I tried to save my infants and virtually touched their feet."

Mohammad Din, a Muslim elder, said more than 200 houses have been burnt in Samba, Jorain Akhnoor and Rajpora Camp.

"About one thousand protesters marched towards our hamlet and started thrashing us," he told IOL.

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