Separatists Aghast, Call For Shutdown Today22 April 2010
Srinagar: The death sentence to three accused, including two Kashmiris, in Lajpat Nagar case has evoked strong reaction with both Hurriyat factions and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front calling for complete shutdown and protests on Friday against the decision. Nearly 14-years after the blast rocked Lajpat Nagar market killing 13 people and injuring 39, a session court on Thursday awarded the death sentence to three convicts. The fourth person convicted in connection with the blast was given the life sentence. The Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, while calling for the strike on Friday against the decision, said, “It is against the ethics of justice. Our youths are being implicated falsely and punished.” Quoting recent example of Syed Maqbool Shah, who was arrested in connection with the Lajpat Nagar blast case and released after 14-years, Geelani said, “Our youth are being subjected to years of imprisonment for no sin? It is murder of justice.” In statement here, a Hurriyat (G) spokesman said that an emergency meeting of the amalgam was held here this afternoon. “The meeting decided that Hurriyat will support the victims in any legal process and will soon take imitative in this regard,” he added. The Hurriyat (G) has decided to postpone its Friday’s programme at TRC Masjid here regarding Dr Israr, the spokesman added. The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman, Muhammad Yasin Malik condemned the decision. “We will raise our voice against the inhuman and unjust decisions against Kashmiris and spare no efforts to save the lives of prisoners.” “We had organised several programmes to save the life of Afzal Guru and even appealed Pakistan to cancel the death sentence of Sarbjeet Singh. Indian civil society and world community should come forward to save the lives of the three accused,” he added. Malik urged the people to observe complete shutdown on Friday against the decision. The Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, while terming the decision as vendetta , said, “Courts are being used as an instrument against Kashmiris and Kashmiri interest. It is an unjust verdict and vendetta against Kashmiris.” Calling for a strike and peaceful protests against the decision on Friday, Mirwaiz said, “We will do whatever we can. We will provide the victims with legal assistance.” The Kashmir Bar Association President, Mian Abdul Qayoom while supporting the strike call said, “The judgment is politically motivated and virtually murder of justice. Right from 1996 when these people were arrested and challan was filed it took four and half years to frame charges against them.” “The trial court adopted policy of delaying the disposal of the case. According to various judgments of SC, the trial court was obliged to conduct the speedy trial of the case, which even meant trial on day-to-day basis. But it prolonged the trial to defeat the constitutional rights of the accused persons,” he said. The Dukhtran-e-Milat Chief, Asiya Andrabi, said, “This has become a routine. Kashmiris who are being arrested outside are being punished for no sin of theirs. They are all innocents and their only sin is that they are Muslims and Kashmiris.” Asiya appealed Geelani and Kashmir Bar Association President, Mian Abdul Qayoom, to devise a strategy to fight against the decision in an organised and effective manner. “One-day strike call won’t help. It is a grave issue as innocent Kashmiri boys are being implicated in false cases. Bar Association should seriously think about it,” she added. Jammu and Kashmir Mass Movement headed by one of the convicts Farida Behanji, who was held guilty under milder penal provisions but allowed to walk free by the court, in a statement said it would decide on future course of action after consultations with Hurriyat (G), of which it is a constituent. Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir termed the decision as “grave injustice.” “Supreme Court in various important judgments unambiguously laid down that a mere confessional statement of an accused can’t be made basis for awarding any punishment. The verdict is biased and also against the rules of natural justice,” a Jamaat spokesman said. The Muslim Khawateen Markaz and Tehreek-e-Muzahamat also condemned the decision. The JKLF (R) vice chairman, Tahir Ahmad Mir, while condemning the decision said, “It is an act of vengeance against Kashmiris. They are innocents and are being fabricated in false cases. These tactics won’t suppress our movement,” Mir added. The Peoples Democratic Party President, Mehbooba Mufti, termed the death sentence to as most unfortunate. In a statement, issued here today, Mehbooba said that Kashmir is an unresolved political problem and such tragedies flow out of the inability of India and Pakistan to resolve this 6-decade old tragedy. She said that Lajpat Nagar case is not the first in the long story of bloodshed associated with Kashmir problem but looking at this problem purely on technical and legal level would only add to the complexities that have prevented a solution so far. Mehbooba said that it was encouraging that there has been a countrywide debate on the approach on the moist extremism. But by contrast Kashmir problem is being addressed only through force and a bureaucratic disposal. Kashmir too needs a more companionate and restrained response from the state to prevent recurrence of violence in any form”, she adds. However, senior National Conference leader and Member Parliament, Dr Mehboob Beg, said, “It is a court decision and a constitutional thing. They can always go for an appeal in the higher court.” Dr Beg accused PDP of politicizing the decision. “ The PDP should remember that there is an institution called court. If PDP doesn’t believe in it then it should openly say it. This will be unfair to play politics on it.” RESTRICTIONS TODAY With separatist calling for a strike against the death sentence to three Kashmiris in the 1996 Lajpat Nagar bomb blast case, police are likely to impose restrictions in the “volatile” areas of the city, mainly in the old city areas, on Friday. A senior police official told Greater Kashmir that police would impose restrictions under section 144 of CrPC. “No assembly of people will be allowed anywhere. Restrictions would be in place in the volatile areas of the city where trouble is expected,” he said. He, however, added that the “genuine movement” of womenfolk and elderly people won’t be restricted. Adequate security arrangements have been put in place across the summer capital, he added.