February 2016 News

Shutdown Hits Kashmir On Afzal Guru's Death Anniversary

9 February 2016
The Hindustan Times
Ashiq Hussain

Srinagar: A shutdown by separatists and restrictions imposed by authorities disrupted life in Kashmir on the third death anniversary of Parliament attack convict Mohammad Afzal Guru. While old parts of Srinagar were under police restrictions, shops and business establishments were closed in other parts of the city. The attendance in government offices was also very thin. Several parts of the city such as Khanyar, Nawhatta, Kralkhud, MR Gunj, Safa-Kadal and Maisuma saw massive deployment of police and CRPF in riot gear, with no movement of people allowed. The shutdown also affected the movement of traffic. The situation in other major district headquarters of the Valley was no different. Rail services within the Valley have also been suspended. Separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chief Yasin Malik, had called for a shutdown on February 9 and 11, demanding the mortal remains of Guru and JKLF founder Maqbool Bhat. The call was supported by United Jehad Council. Police launched a crackdown on the separatist leaders to foil their protest plans. Yasin Malik was arrested on Monday and was remanded to a seven-day judicial custody. Hardline Hurriyat Conference spokesman Ayaz Akbar said the police placed senior leaders, including Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Shabir Shah and Nayeem Khan, under house arrest. JKLF has also planned a protest rally on February 10 to demand the mortal remains of Guru and Bhat. A memorial programme has also been announced for February 11 in Bhat's village in north Kashmir's Trehgam. Bhat, a pro-freedom leader, was hanged and buried in Tihar jail five years before militancy erupted in the Valley on February 11, 1984, on charges of murdering a CID inspector. Twenty-nine years later on February 9, 2013, Guru was also hanged and buried in Tihar for his role in the Parliament attack in 2001. Activists and people in Kashmir have been critical of the hanging as they believe Guru's role could not be fully established in the attack.