BIRDS PROTEST MALKHA SIEGE!
Authorities have sealed access points to centuries-old cemetery in Shahr-e-Khaas
Srinagar, July 13: From residents to netizens, most of the Kashmiris are under scanner of security agencies these days. But the volatile Shahr-e-Khaas seems to be more grave a concern for the authorities as they aren’t taking any chances to keep even graveyards open. This is true, at-least for the old City’s big cemetery, the Malkha.
Like the densely populated residential colonies surrounding the graveyard spanning over five hundred kanals of land, the Malkha is under siege.
Crisscrossing spools of concertina wires seal the access points to the centuries-old graveyard.
Same holds true for inner roads snaking through the cemetery surrounded by Nowhatta, Rainawari and Makhdoom Sahib localities. The security measures are compounded by the presence of police and paramilitary troopers on patrol.
In the past fortnight of curfew and siege, the locals say, some three burials took place at the graveyard but only after a police permission to tread into the cemetery.
“The funeral processions were escorted by police, otherwise people aren’t allowed to visit Malkha,” says Ghulam Muhammad who watched the funerals from his backyard window facing the Malkha.
Some of the residents who were habitual of offering Fateha to their ancestors buried there are up in arms against the government.
“Since my childhood, everyday after Fajr or Zuhr prayers used to visit my parents’ tomb and offered Fateha. But the past fortnight of restrictions have hit my family tradition,” complained a man living in adjacent Rainawari.
The locals say that for centuries, offering Fateha had been a common scene at the cemetery, particularly in the morning hours when people before leaving for day’s work, would pay homage to their deceased.
There’s another list of complainants: The youth who used to spend their leisure playing at the vacant ground alongside Malkha.
“All the activities at Malkha have come to a standstill,” says a Shahr-e-Khaas boy while pointing towards concertina wire spool, which seals the lane leading to his Rainawari house.
Pertinently, for the past over a fortnight since massive protests erupted against killing of 15 youth in the Valley, the security forces are acting tough.
While the old City remains under siege most of the times, the presence of Kashmiris is even being reportedly scanned on social networking websites like the Facebook as some youth complain of having been questioned for web surfing.
Besides, in a crackdown, over 150 youth in Srinagar have been detained by police on charges of inciting protests while 100 odd bikes have been seized for “scrutiny of registration papers”.
And the continued siege of old City even after lifting of curfew, is being seen as another stringent measure.
But the police denies the Malkha siege saying it only facilitated the safe movement of the mourners to the graveyard by providing them escort. “May be the roads are blocked…Malkha is not under siege,” a senior cop told Greater Kashmir.
As for the deserted cemetery, the chirping of birds often breaks the frightening calm, as the flocks fly here and there.
The locals believe the birds are protesting the siege as it has hit their prospective feeding.
This, they say, has relevance. While offering Fateha, many would feed the pigeons and other birds hovering over the graveyard.
The visitors would spill some food grains like rice on the tombs for the birds to consume, the locals explain.
“But given the restrictions, the birds too might be concerned as to why they don’t get the feed the way it used to be, everyday,” argues Ali Muhammad, an oldie from Nowhatta.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 13 Jul 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 13 Jul 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 14 Jul 2010 00:00:00 IST
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