The conflict-affected Kashmir valley, which boasts of having zero crime record against tourists, on Monday witnessed the killing of a visitor from Chennai. He died of injuries after his bus got caught in clashes between forces and stone-pelters.
The 22-year-old deceased has been identified as R Thirumani, who was critically hit by stones on his nose and forehead. He was shifted to Srinagar’s Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), where he took his last breaths.
As per reports, the man was travelling towards Gulmarg, where his bus comprising of around 40 people got caught in violent clashes between stone-throwing protesters and forces. An FIR has been registered at a local police station and an investigation has been initiated to nab the culprits. “Several vehicles were damaged by the stone throwers,” a police officer said to The Hindu.
A majority of local Kashmiris, including figures like the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference (NC) Working President Omar Abdullah, took to their social media handles to condemn the act.
After the news spread out, CM Mufti met the family of the deceased at the hospital. After the meeting, she said, “My head hangs in shame. It is very sad and heartbreaking.”
Jammu & Kashmir: CM Mehbooba Mufti met family member of tourist from Chennai who suffered injuries and later died. The vehicle he was travelling in had come under stone pelting at Narbal bridge on Sringar-Gulmarg road earlier today. pic.twitter.com/N5AIclqr0a
— ANI (@ANI) May 7, 2018
While, in a series of tweets, the NC leader wrote: “We’ve killed a tourist by throwing stones at the vehicle he was travelling in. Let’s try and wrap our heads around the fact that we stoned a tourist, a guest, to death while we glorify these stone pelters & their methods.”
We’ve killed a tourist by throwing stones at the vehicle he was travelling in. Let’s try and wrap our heads around the fact that we stoned a tourist, a guest, to death while we glorify these stone pelters & their methods.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) May 7, 2018
Kashmir, in the past one week, has witnessed about 25 killings due to various conflict-related incidents, the latest one being the death of this Chennai tourist.
When the incident happened, the valley was observing a shutdown over the killing of top four Hizb-ul-Mujaheedin militants and the newly recruited professor-turned-ultra Mohammad Rafi Bhat.
Mourning the tourist’s death, separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq too took to Twitter, where he condemned the “hooliganism and rowdiness” of the stone-pelting crowd.
Deeply saddened by the news of death of a tourist due to stone pelting. Condemn such hooliganism and https://t.co/pL8iLlWKIL is totally against our ethos of treating tourists as respected guests and brings a bad name to the peoples movement
— Mirwaiz Umar Farooq (@MirwaizKashmir) May 7, 2018
Apart from political figures, senior journalist Yusuf Jameel representing the “sympathies” of the people of Kashmir, wrote an “apology” tweet to condemn the act.
Every face in the Vale of Kashmir is stamped with gloom. Every death makes us scared. It is so hard for us to accept the loss of a human being whether a family member, a neighbor, a friend or someone from far off Chennai. Nonetheless, our sympathies for your loss. Our apologies!
— YusufJameelیوسف جمیل (@jameelyusuf) May 7, 2018