Mirwaiz’s March Foiled; Shifts Campaign To Internet8 February 2010
Srinagar: As authorities imposed an undeclared curfew in Srinagar on Monday to foil Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s march to the United Nations office, he shifted to the Internet to highlight the “gross human rights violations” in Kashmir. Normal life in Kashmir remained disrupted for the eighth consecutive day due to the bandh, following the death of two boys. With the unrest growing in the past few days, the authorities tightened security restrictions in Srinagar on Monday to thwart the Mirwaiz’s march to the UN Military Observers Group office here. He was scheduled to hand over a memorandum to register his protest against the killing of the two youths and other violations. House arrest The Mirwaiz and leaders Agha Syed Hassan, Bilal Lone and Zaffar Bhat were put under house arrest. Masroor Abbas Ansari, another Hurriyat leader, was arrested near Narbal. Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik is also under house arrest, and Shabir Shah and Naeem Khan have been sent to Kathua jail. The entire city wore a deserted look as the police and paramilitary CRPF personnel dotted every street. No civilian movement is allowed and people are confined to their homes. The police erected barricades around the UN office in Sonwar and other roads leading to it. A group of around 30 supporters of the Mirwaiz tried to break the security cordon in Rajouri Kadal to lead a protest march, but were dispersed and later arrested. “There is no announcement but curfew has been implemented in the strict sense of the term,” Mir Mujtaba, a resident of Rajouri Kadal, said. He alleged that people were not even being allowed to buy food and that children were starving. The police maintained that there was no curfew but that Section 144 was being enforced. “We are on the job of maintaining law and order and saving civilian lives,” a senior police officer said. Authorities admit that the situation is explosive, as stone pelting has become routine. Online campaign The Mirwaiz has meanwhile submitted an online petition to the UN highlighting the alleged rights violations. The petition said the people of Kashmir believed that the time had come for the UN to let India and Pakistan know that talks between the two countries must be accompanied by practical measures to restore an environment of non-violence. It called for the immediate cessation of military and paramilitary actions against the civilian population in Jammu and Kashmir; the withdrawal of the military from towns and villages; dismantling of bunkers, watchtowers and barricades; releasing of political prisoners; annulling of various special laws; and restoring the rights of peaceful association, assembly and demonstrations.