Hurriyat says militants forced Kashmiris to support strike
22 September 2001
The Indian Express
Srinagar: AFTER unsuccessfully trying to prevent Friday’s militant-sponsored strike in the Valley, the Hurriyat Conference today accused militants of coercing Kashmiris into participating in the strike. ‘‘Militants displayed guns and threatened people to observe the strike against a possible attack on Afghanistan. They fired in the air at a few places and displayed guns at Batamaloo and Downtown in Srinagar,’’ said Hurriyat executive member Abdul Gani Lone.A senior police officer, however, said there were no reports that militants had displayed guns and fired in the air on Friday. ‘‘We have no such reports. There was no firing or exhibition of guns by militants in Batamaloo or in any part of the Valley,’’ the officer told The Indian Express. Lone claimed the state Government had facilitated the strike since it is in tune with the government’s thoughts on the issue. ‘‘State Transport buses were off the roads on the government’s orders,’’ he said. ‘‘Our duty was to tell people not to lend their ears to a call that would harm their interests, but they were forced to observe a strike and defy our ‘no hartal’ call,’’ added Lone.Lone defended the Hurriyat’s stand on the strike. ‘‘We have already condemned US attacks. Supporting a call against fighting terrorism will qualify as support to terrorism itself. India is trying to link the attacks with our freedom struggle. We are not involved in any kind of terrorism ,’’ he said. However, a Hurriyat critic claimed that the organisation had lost face, and that its ‘no hartal’ call had exposed the leaders as Pakistan’s puppets. ‘‘They can’t take a decision on their own. They are abiding by the decision of their masters in Pakistan,’’said a former militant commander.