New Delhi (PTI): A handful of activists allegedly belonging to a right-wing organisation blackened the face of independent MLA of J-K Assembly Sheikh Abdul Rashid using paint, ink and mobil oil protesting against his hosting a beef party in Srinagar earlier this month.
Popularly known as ‘Engineer Rashid’, he was holding a press conference at Press Club here along with relatives of the two truck drivers who were burnt by a mob at Udhampur in Jammu region on October nine. One of the victims–19-year-old Zahid– died at Safdurjung hospital yesterday morning.
As he finished his press conference, he was held at the gate of the Press Club by some TV journalists for a one-to-one interview when some activists shouting slogans “gow mata ka apman, nahi sahega Hindustan (India will not tolerate any disrespect to cow)” pounced on him and painted him with black colour, mobil oil and blue ink.
Some of the TV journalists as well as policemen also received colours on their faces as well as clothes while trying to save the MLA from the mob.
Two people were detained by the police and whisked away to Parliament Street Police station while Rashid had to take refuge inside the Press Club till additional force came in.
“They are mentally sick. I want the whole world to see this how these people are trying to muzzle the voice of Kashmiris,” Rashid, who was beaten by BJP MLAs in the state assembly for hosting the beef party, said after the attack.
The incident came after he had made comments at the press conference about the beef party organised by him inside the MLA hostel in Srinagar.
“I do not eat beef, mutton, or chicken but that was a form of protest to tell the authorities that do not interfere in anyone’s religion,” Rashid had explained to reporters during the press conference when he was asked about him violating the sentiments of the people.
The conference was called by him after the death of Zahid along with the relatives of the two truck drivers to demand that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should apologise for the Udhampur incident.
“If the UP government can be held responsible for Dadri incident, then BJP is equally responsible for the Udhampur incident along with its ally PDP,” he said.
The relatives of the two — Zahid and Showkat — who were sleeping in the truck when it was attacked by a mob with petrol bombs alleged that Mufti Sayeed Government was “threatening, abusing and warning” their family members from speaking to the media.
“Mufti Sayeed will have to pay for this. Is this democracy that India boasts about. Its worst,” Mohammed Ashraf, kin of Zahid, said after his face was also blackened.
Reacting on the beef party controversy, Rashid said people have “right to eat”. “We also consider cow as mother cow. Each and every person has right to eat what he wants,” he said.
Rashid said 72 per cent population of Jammu and Kashmir is Muslim and that their sentiments should also be taken care in a national discourse.
“Are we living in Hindustan of Mohan Bhagwat or Sakshi Maharaj? The Prime Minister talks of talibanisation and radicalisation. What is this happening in Jammu and Kashmir? Nobody is speaking. I request you with folded hands to highlight the plight of Kashmiris,” the MLA told reporters.
Rashid also sought higher compensation for the victims. “There should be higher compensation for them. We have returned the compensation given to us by the state administration,” the state legislator said.
He demanded stricter punishment to those behind the gruesome attack. “The (alleged) kingpin Pralahad Singh of the attack is still at large. Why is he not being arrested? The irony is that he is holding demonstrations in Udhampur for release of other five who have been booked by police.
“We want that the attackers behind this incident should be hanged like Afzal Guru (2001 Parliament Attack convict),” Rashid said.
He said that youngsters in Jammu and Kashmir are being forced into stone pelting. “They do not throw stones on their own. They are being forced to do it,” Rashid said explaining the stone pelting by the youths there protesting the incident.
Asked about the functioning of the state government of PDP-BJP, he said, “what can I say. Mufti Saheb himself said that the alliance was meeting of North Pole and South Pole. So when these two poles meet, its only disaster.”
He recited an urdu couplet of famous Urdu poet Ghalib– “Na Khuda hi mila, na visaal-e-sanam; Na udhar kay rahay, na idhar kay rahe hum (I found neither faith, nor union with my lover; And now I belong neither there nor here)”– to explain the position of Sayeed afer his alliance with the BJP.
Zahid’s brother Mohammad Younus, who was also present in the presser, said his family was being threatened by the police and administration there.
“Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed did not speak to me or my family member. We were asked to contact his ‘PRO Altaf Sahab’. Is this how they care for Kashmiri fellowmen?,” he asked.
“Mufti Saheb should remember that we have voted him to power and not Ram Madhavs of BJP,” he said.
28-year-old Younus said his brother is still in the hospital. “There is no word from the doctor. They send family members out of the ward when they take my brother for the dressing daily,” he said.