On Sunday, women organized a rally to mark the one-year of the Shopian tragedy. A book was also released and foundation of the “memorial wall” was also laid in memory of the victims.
The shutdown call was given by the Majlis-e-Mashawarat Shopian, a peoples’ organization spearheading the protests to seek justice for the family of Aasiya and Neelofar. The Hurriyat Conference, led by Syed Ali Geelani, had supported the call, and had appealed people to march towards Shopian on Sunday.
Women carrying black flags and wearing black armbands marched through Shopian town, demanding justice to the family of Aasiya and Neelofar. They carried placards which read: “We will sacrifice our lives to safeguard our honor,” and “Asmat Hamari Jaan Say Pyari (We love our chastity more than life).”
Dukhtaran-e-Millat chief, Asiya Andrabi also joined the protesters and later addressed a gathering of women inside the Jamia Masjid. She urged women to carry handy “weapons for self-defence” with them. “In presence of 10 lakh troops we are not safe even in our homes, not to speak of orchards,” Asiya said. “So women should always keep a sharp knife with them to protect her chastity, as and when anybody tries to attack her.” Hundreds of people from nearby areas marched towards the town and later organized a sit-in while many pro-freedom leaders, Majlis members and members of High Court Bar Association delivered speeches.
The HCBA president, Mian Qayoom said, “The CBI report about the Shopian incident was formulated by New Delhi with the tacit support of the state government well in advance. Even the then Chief Justice, Barin Ghosh had decided to formulate an independent commission but within no time the case was handed over to CBI under a conspiracy for which the opposition parties were equally responsible. Even Justice Ghosh was made a scapegoat because he was firm on Shopian case.”
The HCBA secretary, GN Shaheen said, “The Bar withdrew from the case because they knew that it will meet the same fate as that of infamous sex scandal”.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani who was arrested on Friday could not make it to Shopian. However, the Hurriyat (G) general secretary, Peer Saifullah addressed the gathering here.
Saifullah blamed National Conference for bringing miseries to the people. “They (NC) threw Kashmir in India’s lap for petty interests and the people of Kashmir are suffering because of their wrong policies,” he said.
He accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of befooling the masses.
The Majlis president, Abdul Rasheed Dalal, spokesperson, Muhammad Shafi Khan and Secretary Abdul Hameed Deva and Fayaz Ahmad Cheepoo also addressed people.
“The people of Shopian are not only fighting for justice for the family of the rape and murder victims but for the protection of the honor and dignity of all the Kashmiri women,” they said.
They said Majlis would launch a campaign for demilitarization. Others who spoke on the occasion included Tehreek-e-Hurriyat president Muhammad Yousuf Falahi, Advocate Sidique of HCBA, Ameer-e-Zila Jamat-e-Islami, Shopian and Jamaat spokesman, Advocate Zahid Ali.
Later a book titled “Shopian – Institutional Denial of justice” was also released by Majlis and human rights activist Parvez Imroz. Also people in hundreds proceeded in a procession towards the graveyard of Aasiya and Neelofar where foundation of a memorial wall laid. The hoarding erected displayed the names of the places were the “rapes have occurred in the last twenty years of armed conflict.” These included Kunanposhpora, Handwara, Checksadipora etc. Shakeel Ahanger, brother of Aasiya and husband of Neelofar while carrying his three year old son was also present there along with his father in law, Abdul Hai.
Meanwhile, during the program, violent protests broke out between the youth and troopers. The CRPF and cops fired a tear gas shell towards a Jamia Masjid during the Zuhar prayers. This forced the youth to retaliate with stones.