Yasir Alfaz, a man with serious mental health issues, was with his brother Tanveer at the psychiatrist Dr Jagdish Thapa’s private clinic at Jammu’s Roopnagar locality, when he suddenly disappeared. But when he returned after a brief time, the city was communally charged, ready to tip into turmoil. And the parts of it did soon after.
Yasir’s activity in the absent time surfaced soon on the CCTV footage of the local Aap Shambhu Mandir which soon started circulating on Whatsapp and went viral.
The footage shows him entering the temple, kicking at a railing, tearing the flower buntings at the entrance, tipping over an idol and throwing around the bell. And while he did it, he kept waving his arms in rage which scared the visitors to the temple who started fleeing.
The news of the desecration of mandir by a Muslim man got people worked up. Mahant of the temple led a group of people to the nearby Janipura police station to file a report. When police sought to investigate the matter first, the people became furious. Outside the mob had already collected on the streets. The shops had closed. People threw stones and set afire two buses of the Police Public School besides two Maruti cars and some motorbikes.
Police swung into action and arrested the accused. It turned out Yasir was mentally deranged. He had come to the city on the same day from his village Shiva in Doda district with his brother for an appointment with the psychiatrist.
State Government issued a statement in Assembly on his mental condition. “Preliminary investigations suggest that the accused person who entered the temple is a lunatic patient”, the law minister Abdul Haq Khan said adding that a case has been registered at police station Janipur and investigation initiated.
But this hardly calmed the anger on the street. Protests and arson continued forcing the police to arrest 22 youth and book them under charges of disrupting communal harmony and damaging public property.
However, the rightwing organizations – VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena – who were a part of the protests objected to the arrests. State’s Health Minister Bali Ram Baghat later held a meeting with the State VHP president Leela Karan Sharma and agreed to release all the 22 youth and withdraw cases against them.
Yasir, meanwhile is still in jail. The administration has promised to check the extent of his mental illness and whether he was guided by anybody to carry out the sacrilege in the garb of his disease. The Deputy Commissioner Simrandeep Singh who rushed to the site soon after the tension started promised a speedy probe.
The situation in the city, which is now returning to normal, became a subject of contentious debate in the Assembly. The members asked for more information on the violence there. Kashmir based National Conference urged the government to ensure protection of Muslims in the city.
National Conference’s Altaf Ahmad Kaloo and Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rasheed also chimed in, demanding the government ensure safety of Kashmiris in Jammu region.
“Four boys from Pahalgam area have been arrested in Jammu. What is their fault?” Kaloo asked.
However, the former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told Assembly that instead of blaming each other over the issue, the legislators “should set an example for the people to follow on ground. What we do here will be a cue for the people in Jammu,” he said.