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Blast kills top cleric, Kashmir mourns

Last updated on: April 8, 2011 22:12 IST

Blast kills top cleric, Kashmir mourns

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Maulana Showkat Ahmed Shah, chief of the Ahli-Hadees organisation in Jammu and Kashmir, was killed in a powerful bomb explosion outside a mosque in Maisuma locality near Srinagar's city centre Lal Chowk on Friday afternoon.

Shah was just about to step inside the mosque when the bomb exploded, injuring him and another bystander critically, said a senior police official.

Reportage: Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar


Image: The blast site
Photographs: Umar Ganie
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Shah and the other injured bystander were immediately rushed to a hospital in Srinagar, where the Maulana succumbed to his injuries.

Maisuma locality remained tense after the blast as security personnel continued searching the area.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the incident.


Image: Maulana Showkat Ahmed Shah
Photographs: Umar Ganie
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Meanwhile, Srinagar district police chief Ashiq Bukhari told rediff.com that an improvised explosive device had been tied to a bicycle parked near the mosque entrance.

"The IED exploded as the Maulana was entering the mosque. He was critically injured in the blast and shifted to a hospital, where he succumbed to injuries," Bukhari added.


Image: The blast site
Photographs: Umar Ganie
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Blast kills top cleric, Kashmir mourns

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Thousands of people participated in the funeral prayers offered for the Maulana in Lal Chowk.
 
Shouting pro-freedom and religious slogans, the supporters of the Maulana carried the body to the martyr's graveyard at Eidgah for burial late on Friday evening.

Image: The Maulana's funeral procession
Photographs: Umar Ganie
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Blast kills top cleric, Kashmir mourns

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The Maulana, who was closely associated with pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Yasin Malik, was seen as a moderate voice who had openly condemned the practice of stone-pelting in Kashmir.
 
Chairman of the moderate All Parties Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq condemned the assassination and called for a shutdown in Kashmir on Saturday.

Image: Thousands mourned the Maulana
Photographs: Umar Ganie
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The assassination has evoked strong condemnation from various separatist groups and the People's Democratic Party.
 
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also condemned the blast in a strongly-worded statement.
 
Omar said that the "killing of a veteran religious scholar is a great loss to the society and those responsible for the crime have exhibited their inhuman behaviour towards the civil society and the innocents".

Image: Thousands joined the Maulana's funeral procession
Photographs: Umar Ganie
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