5 years and counting: Social boycott shatters Zanskar Muslim economy 

5 years and counting: Social boycott shatters Zanskar Muslim economy 


PADUM: The social boycott enforced by majority Buddhists against Muslims has devastated the economy of minority community in mountainous Zanskar Division of Kargil region of Jammu and Kashmir.  It has been over five years since Buddhists on the directions of Zanskar Buddhist

Association (ZBA) enforced social boycott against Muslims in the region and yet the State Government particularly district administration has been taking no measures to mitigate the sufferings Muslim Community. The economy of Muslims in the town has shattered while majority of them have started migrating to Kargil and Kashmir Valley.

Zanskar with a population of 18,000 out of which over 1200 are Sunni Muslims witnessed violence when on October 24, 2012 four Buddhist families comprising 22 members converted to Islam.

Shortly after the incident ZBA issued a diktat asking Buddhists to snap ties with Muslim community.

“Buddhists don’t buy anything from our shops. They don’t interact with us and furthermore they evicted us from the shops we had taken from them on rental basis. We have been living from hand to mouth as we don’t find any source of earning,” said a group of local Muslims from historical Padum town.

“Our lives and properties are at risk and we are feeling scared the way Buddhists have been given free hand in the region by the district administration,” they added.

Junior Engineer Abdul Aziz from the same town told news agency CNS that he was suspended from the Public Works Department after he led a protest against the atrocities committed by Buddhists and the callousness of the district administration. “I was implicated in a false case when ZBA lodged an FIR against me accusing me of raising pro-Pakistan slogans. A case vide FIR number 13/2012 under section 153 A, 124 A still stands registered against me at Police Station Zanskar,” he said adding that he can’t act as mute spectator and is doing everything to expose the duplicity and biased attitude of Kargil and Zanskar administration which are doing nothing to give a respite to the Muslim population of Zanskar.

He said Muslim drivers are not allowed to enter into any Buddhist village with any foreign tourist in their vehicles. “Zanskar Buddhist Association that is backed and vehemently supported by Bodh Councillor and Executive Councillor of Ladakh Hill Development Council impose a fine on those Buddhist drivers who even ferry a Muslim passenger in their vehicles,” Abdul Aziz said adding that they are living in Hell.

“An attempt was made on my life by fanatics for raising voice and even my security was withdrawn on the directions of Ladakh Hill Development Council,” he added.

Another elderly person from Zanskar said that they wonder what the district and police administration are up to. “Administration has failed to mitigate our sufferings. From five years, not a single elected representative raised this grave issue on the floor of House,” he lamented and added that they have left with only option and that is migration. “Already Muslims families have migrating to Kargil and Kashmir Valley,” he said.

In April 2014, a netizen Tariq Rasool came up with an online petition addressed to the exiled spiritual leader of Buddhists Dalai Lama, seeking end to social boycott of Muslims in Zanskar, but there was no response.

Senior Superintendent of Police Kargil T. Gylapo said that the district and police administration had taken up the matter with the spiritual leader Dalai Lama during his visit to Leh, but the social boycott persisted. “We have been trying to persuade Buddhist leaders to end this socio-economic boycott,” he said.

Legislator Zanskar Syed Muhammad Baqir Rizvi said he left no stone unturned in persuading Buddhist leaders to end this boycott but failed as neither the government nor district administration showed any interest. “Late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed had promised me that he will visit Zanskar to resolve the issue but before that he left this world. I reminded the incumbent Chief Minister of the promise made by his father several times but till date the situation is as it was in 2012.” Rizvi said and admitted that Muslims have been suffering in the town.

Deputy Commissioner Kargil, Haji Gulzar Hussain said that thing have started improving now and this social boycott game will be over soon. (CNS)