Pro-Afzal strike cripples life in Kashmir
29 September 2006
Indo-Asian News Service
Srinagar: Normal life in Kashmir Valley was crippled Friday following a complete shutdown against the hanging order of Mohammed Afzal, convicted for his role in the December 2001terror attack on parliament.Work in almost all state government offices was badly affected as shops, businesses, transport, educational institutions and banks were shut in the Jammu and Kashmir capital Srinagar and other major towns.Friday's strike call was given by hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani and supported by frontline guerrilla outfit Hizbul Mujaheedin, the Kashmir Bar Association and other groups.Geelani had been placed under house arrest Thursday as a precautionary measure.Security in the state's summer capital was high and police and paramilitary troops in strength were out on the streets to maintain law and order.Groups of youths took to the streets in the Khanyar area of downtown Srinagar Friday morning and burnt tyres and shouted slogans demanding the release of Afzal.The city has been tense for the last three days after a Delhi court issued orders Tuesday that Afzal be hanged on Oct 20.'We have made elaborate security arrangements to maintain law and order in the city and other towns,' said a senior police officer here.The Supreme Court had Aug 4 last year upheld the Delhi High Court judgment confirming the death sentence awarded to him by the trial court.Apart from Afzal, there were three accused in the case - Shaukat Hussain, Navjot Sandhu alias Afsan Guru, wife of Hussain, and S.A.R. Geelani, a lecturer in Delhi University.The apex court had acquitted Geelani and Afsan Guru from all charges and had reduced the death sentence awarded to Hussain to 10 years' imprisonment.However, it upheld the judgment of the high court in sentencing Afzal to death for actively participating in the conspiracy to attack parliament and waging war against the Indian state. In its judgment the apex court characterised Afzal as a 'menace to society', whose 'life should become extinct' to satisfy 'the collective conscience of society'.