M A I N   N E W S

IED blast kills Valley cleric who opposed stone-pelting
Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, April 8
A prominent religious leader and the chief of Jamiat-e-Ahl-e-Hadees, Showkat Ahmad, Shah was killed in an IED blast outside a mosque here today where he had come to offer Friday prayers.

An opponent of violence who had denounced stone-pelting and was engaged with Centre’s interlocutors, Showkat (55) was declared brought dead in a hospital, the police said. He had survived two assassination bids earlier — militants had fired at his car in 2006 and hurled a grenade at his house in Lal Bazar in 2008. He was opposed to stone-pelting, which, he described, was un-Islamic.

Drawing criticism from separatists and political leaders alike, the killing comes three days after a grenade was hurled at the vehicle of Nowhatta SDPO in the city on Tuesday. No militant organisation has so far claimed responsibility for the killing.

Shah had earlier met one of the interlocutors and discussed with him a possible road map for restoring peace in the Valley. He was among the first to demand a fresh inquiry into killings of separatist leaders, including Mirwaiz Farooq, Abdul Gani Lone and Qazi Nissar.

Criticised by hardliners who had supported stone-pelting, Shah had challenged the perpetrators of violence to cite even one sermon from Islam which supported such acts.

Known for advocating puritanical Islam, Shah had issued a fatwa against such violent protests. Shah was a tech-savvy individual with a public figure page on social networking site Facebook where many threatening messages were also posted by his opponents. He came under fire from hardliner Syed Ahmed Shah Geelani soon after he issued fatwa against stone-pelting.

Meanwhile, tension prevailed in Lal Chowk area following the incident. All shops and business establishments were closed later, the day coinciding with the call by Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani to protest the issuance of Dogra Certificate for the residents of Jammu region. (With PTI inputs)





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