Kashmir shutdown
[Representational Image]IANS

Widespread protests and clashes engulfed the Kashmir Valley in the wake of the death and funeral of a Kashmiri trucker, Zahid Rasool Bhat, killed in Udhampur over beef rumours and led to a shutdown across the Valley on Monday.

All shops, business establishments, government offices, and educational institutions remained closed in Srinagar and other major towns of the Valley.

The shutdown was called by both factions of Hurriyat Conference, and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front to protest the death of the truck driver, killed in a petrol bomb attack in Udhampur following beef rumours on 9 October.

Violence erupted in the Kashmir valley on Sunday after Zahid Rasool Bhat, the truck driver, succumbed to his burn injuries in Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital.

The Jammu-Srinagar  national highway that connects the Kashmir valley to rest of nation was blocked, IANS reported.

The native village of the trucker, Batango village in Anantnag district, saw hundreds of people who defied curfew-like restraints participating in the funeral rites, several of whom unfurled Pakistan flags, shouted anti-India and pro-freedom slogans and clashed with security forces.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, said: "One more precious life has been lost to the politics of hate and intolerance that is posing a grave challenge to the state and country's plurality" and promised a fast-track investigation into the incident, reports said.

Soon after receiving the news of Bhat's death, a mob took to the streets in the southern district of Anantnag in the Kashmir Valley and burned tyres to block the Jammu-Srinagar highway. No trucks were being allowed onward to Jammu.

Separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik and local traders, transporters and manufacturers unions were united in enforcing the shutdown.

The bomb attack at the truck at Udhampur on the Jammu-Srinagar highway killed Bhat, while another man from Kashmir Showkat Ahmad Dar, 35, sustained major injuries.

The police arrested five accused in connection with the attack and they have now been charged with murder, Udhampur District Magistrate Shahid Chowdhary said on Sunday.

The five accused – Sandoor Singh, Danish alias Pamma, Harish Singh, Balbahadur Singh and Varinder Singh alias Kaka – were earlier charged for rioting and fuelling communal tension, and booked under the Public Safety Act.

The government had handed over Bhat's body to his family on Sunday after the ruling Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti, state Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu, state Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Syed Basharat Bukhari, state police chief K Rajendra Kumar and other senior officials received the body at the Srinagar airport.

Former chief minister Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah condemned the incident and blamed its ruling ally for "stoking communal passions" which led to the Udhampur attack.