NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR: The beef ban row in Jammu and Kashmir deepened further on Monday with independent MLA of J&K Assembly Sheikh Abdul Rashid, popularly known as Engineer Rashid, facing ink, paint and oil attack from activists of Hindu Sena, a right-wing fringe outfit here.
Rashid was in the eye of a storm after he hosted a beef party in Srinagar earlier this month, defying a beef ban. Earlier, Rashid was roughed up by some BJP MLAs inside the J&K Assembly.
Rashid had invited mediapersons for an interaction at the Press Club here on Monday, over the death of Kashmiri youth Zahid Rasool Bhat, who was allegedly attacked along with two others by a mob in Udhampur district after the recovery of three carcasses of cows from the area on October 9.
After the press interaction, Rashid was giving TV interviews outside the Press Club gate when Hindu Sena activists shouting slogans like “India will not tolerate any disrespect to mother cow” attacked Rashid with ink, paint and oil. Rashid was escorted to safety by journalists present on the spot, while police detained two alleged Hindu Sena activists.
Hindu Sena head Vishnu Gupta tweeted that Ghulam Ali concert was the next on its target. “Police have arrested Hindu Sena activists Deepak Sharma and Devendra Upadhayay. We want to warn those working against Hindus,” he said.
Formed in 2011, Hindu Sena shot into the limelight after it allegedly engineered an attack on the AAP’s office in Ghaziabad last year.
Rashid termed the attackers “mentally ill”, alleging that right-wing fringe outfits were acting like Taliban. “This was totally undemocratic. People say Pakistan has talibanisation, but they should see what is happening in India. See the ugly face of radical forces. But we will not succumb and will fight till the end. This is Modi’s India and not Gandhi’s India,” Rashid said.
During his press interaction along with relatives of those who were attacked in Udhampur, Rashid clarified about his beef party claiming that it was a form of protest. “I do not eat beef, mutton or chicken, but that was a form of protest. If the UP government can be held responsible for Dadri incident, then BJP is equally responsible for the Udhampur incident along with PDP,” Rashid said.
Meanwhile, Kashmir and Muslim-dominated belts of Jammu observed a shutdown to protest Zahid’s killing. Defying restrictions, people in large numbers attended his funeral prayers amid chanting of anti-India slogans. A Pakistani flag was also waved.
Youth in the area later staged a demonstration and clashed with police and paramilitary personnel, who fired tear smoke shells and resorted to a lathicharge.
In a related development, Kashmiri litterateur Margoob Banihali said he will return his Sahitya Akademi award as a mark of protest.
Four more accused in the attack case have been booked under the Public Safety Act.