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Separatists torch school bus in J&K
Published on 4 Dec. 2010 11:03 PM IST
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A mob torched a school bus here Saturday to enforce a shutdown called by hardline separatist Syed Ali Geelani that partially affected life in summer capital Srinagar and other parts of the Kashmir Valley. The bus-burning comes even as a 10-member parliamentary-civil society team is here to meet a cross-section of the people, including separatist leaders.
A school bus belonging to a private school in Old City Badamwari area of Srinagar was stopped by a mob at Khwaja Bazar, and after the driver and the conductor were forced to disembark, the bus was set ablaze.
“There was a lone child in the bus who was taken down by the bus conductor before the mob torched it.
“The child could not retrieve his school bag out of fear when the incident occurred,” said a teacher of the school who did not want to be named.
The torching of the school bus is seen here as a signal by the separatist activists to enforce the shutdowns and protests called by the separatist leaders.
After news about the torching spread, some private schools functioning in the city closed down for the day sending children back to their homes.
“The safety of our children is the paramount consideration for us and we do not want to take any step that might endanger the lives of the children,” said the principal of a private school in uptown Srinagar city.
“The frustration among the separatists because the people have started ignoring their shutdown calls shows up in today’s ugly incident,” said a senior police officer here.
Shops in main markets remained shut here because of the separatist shutdown, but banks, post offices, government offices, many educational institutions and private transport functioned almost normally here.
For almost two months now, the people have been lukewarm in their response to the separatist-called protests and shutdowns.
Life had virtually remained paralyzed for more than four months since June 11 when the separatist group led by Geelani announced its ‘Quit Kashmir’ campaign here.
During fierce clashes between the protesters and the security forces, 110 people lost their lives in the Valley since June 11.
Reports from other towns of the Valley also indicated the shutdown call had partial response there.
A parliamentary-civil society team, including Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan and Communist Party of India’s D. Raja arrived here Friday on a three-day visit.
The delegation also comprises Shoaib Iqbal of LJP, Gopal ChoudHary of Communist Party of India-Marxist, Namo Nageshwar Rao of Telugu Desam Party, Danish Ali of Janta Dal-Secular, Maheshwar Hazari of Janta Dal-United, Shahid Siddiqui of Rashtriya Lok Dal, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, journalist Seema Mustafa and academician Kamal Chenoy.
The delegation members said they were here on a “fact finding mission”.
On Friday, the delegation visited the family of 17-year old Tufail Ahmad Mattoo whose killing June 11 triggered the unrest.
Tufail was hit by a tear smoke shell fired by the police in the old city while he was returning home from tuition.
The delegation is scheduled to meet separatist leaders. Both Geelani as well as moderate leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq have agreed to meet the delegation members Saturday.
They will also meet Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Yasin Malik.

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