6,000 attend funeral of Kashmiri leader
8 June 2004
SRINAGAR: Thousands of wailing Muslim mourners flocked on Tuesday to the funeral of a moderate Kashmiri leader gunned down by freedom fighters in Srinagar. Maulvi Mushtaq Ahmed, a close relative of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a senior leader of the moderate wing of Kashmir's main alliance, Hurriyat, was shot as he left a mosque May 29 and died of his wounds late on Monday. 'We will spill blood for blood,' shouted grief-stricken mourners, carrying black flags symbolising sorrow through Srinagar. Mr Ahmed was a senior figure in the Awami Action Committee which belongs to the moderate faction of Hurriyat that took part in two rounds of talks with New Delhi earlier this year aimed at bringing peace to the scenic region. A little-known Kashmiri group, called the Save Kashmir Movement, said it shot Ahmed in what was seen by analysts as a warning to moderates not to proceed with the talks which hardline Kashmiris have branded a 'sell-out.' Police estimated some 6,000 people thronged funeral prayers for Ahmed at Srinagar's main mosque. In a grief-choked voice, Miwaiz Farooq recited verses from the Koran as mourners wept. Maulvi Ahmed's coffin was carried in a slow procession from the Awami Action Committee headquarters to the mosque. Women and children lined the route, wailing and beating their chests in a traditional show of sorrow, while others cried 'God is great.' Some shouted pro-Pakistan and pro-freedom slogans, punching the air with their fists, under the gaze of police, out in strength to avert violence at the funeral that Maulana Abbas Ansari, head of Hurriyat's moderate wing attended. The coffin was later taken in a procession to a nearby graveyard for burial. A strike called to mourn Ahmed's death shut shops and businesses in Srinagar.