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Trucker hurt in Udhampur attack dies, triggers protests; 9 held

Srinagar: A truck conductor, injured in a petrol bomb attack in Udhampur nine days back, succumbed to his injuries today, triggering protests in some parts of Kashmir even as nine people were arrested for the assault and five of them slapped with the tough Public Safety Act.

Zahid, who was admitted in Safdarjung hospital in Delhi with 74 per cent burn injuries, breathed his last at 11.30 am after his condition worsened in the last 12 hours, police and hospital sources said.

A resident of Anantnag in South Kashmir, Zahid was conductor of the truck that was en route to Kashmir when a mob attacked it with petrol bombs on October 9. The driver of the truck Showkat Ahmed is also admitted in the hospital.

As soon as the news about his demise reached his Batengoo village, a spontaneous shutdown was observed and clashes between protesters and police broke out there and adjoining areas in Kulgam and several places in Srinagar, police said.

Police had to use force, like teargas and cane-charge, to control the situation but nobody was hurt.

An aircraft of the state government flew Zahid’s body this evening from Delhi to Srinagar from where it was taken to his native village for last rites. Ruling PDP chief and MP from Anantnag Mehbooba Mufti, state’s Finance Minister Haseeb A Drabu and Law Minister Basharat Bukhari were at the Srinagar airport to receive the body.

Expressing deep shock over the death, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed blamed the “politics of hate and intolerance” for it and said it is posing a “grave challenge to the state and country’s plurality.”

He asserted that under no circumstances shall those guilty of this “barbaric crime” be allowed to go unpunished.

Nirmal Singh, Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader from Jammu region where the attack took place, also condemned the incident and said the perpetrators should not be spared.

Former J&K CM Omar Abdullah attacked BJP and its allies over the incident and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi as to who would be blamed for the death.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner, Udhampur, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said nine people have been arrested and five of them booked under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) for allegedly attacking the truck.

To protest against the death, both factions of separatist Hurriyat Conference and JKLF called for a shutdown in the Valley tomorrow. A Kashmiri pandit organisation, Kashmir High Court Bar Association, traders’ bodies and transport union have extended support to shutdown call.