KASHMIR SHUTS DOWN ON MAQBOOL BHAT ANNIVERSARY
Srinagar deserted (Pic: Basit Zargar)
SRINAGAR: A partial to complete shutdown is being observed in Kashmir Valley following the strike call of the Hurriyat and JKLF to commemorate the 32nd death anniversary of JKLF founder Maqbool Butt who was hanged at New Delhi's Tihar jail on this day in 1984.
A senior Jammu and Kashmir Police official said restrictions have been imposed in old Srinagar city areas that fall under five police stations including Nowhatta, Khanyar, Mahraj Gunj, Rainawari and Safa Kadal. The official said restrictions will also be placed in major towns and villages of Kashmir including Baramulla, Sopore, Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam, besides others.
“We don’t want any untoward incident to take place because of which restrictions have been imposed in sensitive locations of the Valley. The situation remains under control and there are no reports of any protests in any part of the Valley,” the official said.
As the separatist groups had called for protests today, rain gods seemingly came to the help of the security forces with heavens opening up since Wednesday evening, confining people to their homes and breaking a prolonged dry spell in the Valley.
All the major separatist groups including both the factions of the Hurriyat as well as the JKLF have called for complete shutdown today and protests to demand the mortal remains of Butt who is buried at New Delhi’s Tihar jail.
Paying tributes to Butt, veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani reiterated demand for the return of Butt's mortal remains, “India is the only country in the world which denies the dead bodies of the political prisoners to their families, thus self-exposing its claim of being a largest democracy,” he said in a statement.
Despite curfew-like restrictions in and around Lal Chowk over the last three days, scores of JKLF activists organised a march from Saraibala on Wednesday, demanding the mortal remains of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and Butt. According to a JKLF statement, the rally was marching towards Lal Chowk when a large contingent of police and forces cordoned it near Amira Kadal Bridge., following which scores of JKLF activists were detained.
Maisuma, the bastion of JKLF, and its adjacent areas have been put under strict restrictions with the police putting up barricades and razor wire on roads to prevent any protests. JKLF chief Muhammad Yasin Malik along with senior Hurriyat leaders including Shabir Ahmad Shah and Nayeem Ahmad Khan have been either arrested or put under house-arrest from last three days.
Moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq condemned the arrests, massive presence of government forces in Kashmir areas and placing curbs on the movement of people on the anniversaries of Butt and Afzal.
“At a time when people were paying tributes to their martyred leaders on their anniversaries, the state administration was stopping aborting these programs and stopping these people by using dictatorial, fascist and brute force in an undemocratic manner,” Mirwaiz said in a statement.
The J&K High Court Bar Association also condemned the detention of the Hurriyat leaders, "The government and police are labouring under some misconception by keeping these leaders in detention though they know it well that they have tried these methods and tactics in the past also, but have not succeeded in their nefarious designs of stopping them from raising their voice against the suppression and oppression of people of Kashmir by Indian might and are determined to continue their struggle of achieving freedom from Indian occupational forces,” a statement by the Bar said.