Valley Observes Strike, Several Separatists Arrested
28 October 2003
The Times of India
Srinagar: While normal life was paralysed in most parts of Kashmir Valley today in view of a separatist sponsored general strike, police today arrested scores of separatist activists from various political parties. The detained persons had come out to register a symbolic protest against, what they said, occupation of J&K on this day in 1947. Some separatist leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani were kept under house arrest. During morning hours three groups of separatists - two belonging to the Geelani faction of Hurriet and another to the Awami Action Committee, which is part of the Ansari led Hrriet - reached Lal Chowk. The former was led by Ghulam Nabi Sumji and Zia-ud-Din Bukhari while as the latter by Advocate Shahid- ul-Islam. They resorted to sloganeering and intended to march towards the UNMOGIP office in Sonawar. They were carrying the placards highlighting the violations of human rights and the Kashmiris 'urge for freedom'. Those detained included Dr Ghulam Mohammed Hubi, Ghulam Nabi Sumji, Ghulam Qadir Hangroo, Firdous Ahmad Shah and Shahid-ul-Islam and Mohamad Yasin Bhat. The first group appeared at around 1100 hours in Lal Chowk. Dr Hubi was leading over 100 activists. As the police stopped it near the Regal Chowk, another small group appeared near Exchange Road . While those arrested near Regal were taken to Kothibagh, those rounded up on the Exchnage Road were taken to Kral Khud Police station. At around noon , Shahid-ul-Islam of Awami Action Committee made a surprise apperance in Lal Chowk. Police, however, stopped all the factions and prevented their onward march. Police used tear-smoke and lathi- charge to contain the two groups. They were forced to board the police vehicles and driven to different police stations. Later, most of them were shifted to Central Jail Srinagar. While the police said a total of 27 activists were detained, the parties said their number were in scores. Geelani faction gave a list of 38 detainess and Awami Action Committee of 15. Besides, separatists including both the factions of the Hurriet Conference and the JKLF had called for a strike across the state and asked people to observe it as 'black day'. The call had a mixed response. While in most of the peripheral areas, entire educational and commercial institutions remained closed alongwith the traffic, in certain urban and sub-urban areas, it had partial impact. Vehicular traffic that plied in certain areas, however, was erratic. Most of the old city witnessed business as usual. Awami Action Committee said that its activists were stopped by force in Lal Chowk when they were on their way the UN office. Though they had started from the Mirwaiz Manzil, the police stopped them at Ghanta Ghar (Lal Chowk). Shahid-ul-Islam was leading the protest. Participants included Farooq Ahmad Soudagar, Pir Ghulam Nabi Trali, Syed Wahid Kishtwarai, Ghulam Mohammed Sheikh, Abdur Rashid Tanki, Bilal Ahmad Bhat, Naseer Ahmad Fazli, Mohammed Sultan Gujri, Mushtaq Ahmad Kakroo, Ghulam Rasool Kuchay, Mohammed Yaqoob Bhat, Mohammed Ismail Bhat, Ghulam Nabi Matoo, and Raouf Ahmad. Committee spokesman alleged that they were unaware about the whereabouts of these persons who were arrested by the police. He termed it undemocratic. A spokesman of the Geelani led Hurriet gave a list of 38 activists who were arrested. It said after the Sumji led procession was stopped, another protest was organised under the leadership of Syed Zia-ud-Din Bukhari. They were also arrested and driven to Kralkhud police station. The spokesman said the arrest of the protestors conveys exposes the democratic claims made by the authorities. Last Friday, it said, when they had arranged a public meeting in Pulwama, the government prevented it. He appealed the democratic and civilized world to use their good offices in helping Kashmir . Those who were arrested from the Geelani led faction of Hurriet included Sumji, Dr Gulam Mohammed Hubi, Firdous Ahmad Shah, Mian Manzoor Ahmad, Mohammed Yasin Bhat, Syed Zia-ud-Din Bukhari, Meraj-ud-Din Zargar, Ghulam Mohammed Nagoo, Mehmood Kazmi, Mohamad Shafi Lone, Ghulam Nabi Najar, Mohmad Rafiq Ganai, Merajuddin, Abdul Khaliq Bhat, Reyaz Ahmad Bhat, Imtiaz Ahmad Bhat, Malik Ghulm Rasool, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, Mohamad Yousuf Bhat, Mohammed Maqbool Koundoo, Bashir Ahmad Wani, Abdul Rashid Khan, Mir Zahoor Ahmad, Farooq Ahmad, Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, Liyaqat Ahmad, Abid Hussain, Nazir Ahmad Mala, Mohammed Ashraf Dar, Abdul Khaliq Najar, Fayaz Ahmad Dar, Abdur Razaq Dar, Ghulam Mohammed, Mohammed Maqbool Ganai, Mohammed Ashraf Mala, and Mohammed Abbas. Armed forces, however, observed it as Infantry Day as usual. The main function was observed in Baramulla, the north Kashmir township that witnessed the main battle between Pakistan backed tribals and the Indian Army within 24 hours after Maharaji signed the Instrument of Accession at Jammu on October 26. State Governor Lt Gen (retd) S K Sinha who participated in the war was the chief guest. The Finance, Planning and Law Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig represented state government. Separatists and the establishment, it is recalled, are observing October 27 for diagonally different purposes. Though they have been celebrating it as Infantry Day, the armed forces on Monday introduced it as 'Youm-e-Shuhda', the Martyrs' day. J&K, it is recalled here, observes July 31 as Martyrs Day in memory of the civilians killed by the Maharaja's forces in 1931. It is an official holiday.