A near-complete shutdown was observed in Kashmir to mark the death anniversary of Muhammad Afzal Guru who was hanged this day in 2013.
The Joint Resistance Leadership of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik had requested the people to observe a complete shutdown on February 9 to press for the return of Guru's mortal remains that were interred in Delhi's Tihar Jail after his hanging for his alleged role in the Parliament attack case.
Chairman Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who has been placed under house arrest, took to his Twitter handle to pay tributes to Guru. He wrote: "Kashmir today remembers and pays rich tributes to #ShaheedAfzalGuru on his 6th martyrdom anniversary. Hanged and buried in secrecy in #TiharJail against all norms of justice and humanity to "satisfy the collective conscience of a state".
PEOPLE REACH GURU'S SOPORE RESIDENCE
According to a source, scores of resistance leaders, including those from the Shabir Shah-led Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), managed to reach Guru's residence in Sopore despite security curbs. The source said the leaders offered Fateh prayers for Guru and also expressed solidarity with the son of the deceased, Galib Guru, and wife Tabassum. Dozens of local residents also thronged Guru's residence for the same reason.
"People hugged Galib and women kissed his forehead and prayed for his long life," said a local resident who requested anonymity.
He said a large number of policemen and paramilitary soldiers were deployed at all entry and exit points to Sopore to foil protests and to prevent people from visiting Guru's home.
Police and army had installed barricades leading to the village. Army's armouredCassipir vehicle, stood right in the middle of the road, to block movement of people and vehicles.
Tabassum told Greater Kashmir on phone that army was deployed outside their house during the night to stop people from visiting them.
"But people crossed the river in boats and visited our home. We had organized FatehKhawani like we have been doing for the past six years. Media persons were also stopped from visiting our home," she said.
Tabassum alleged that army "harassed their relatives who had managed to reach the village by avoiding the only road link and walking through orchards or by crossing the river nearby".
"They seized IDs of some of our relatives. But a large number of people still came to our home to pay tributes to Afzal sahab," she said.
A relative of Afzal Guru alleged that the forces prevented him from visiting the Gurus.
"Six years ago Guru was hanged secretly in Delhi's Tihar jail and now we are not even being allowed to gather and pay respects to him peacefully. Government is using all repressive measure to muzzle the voice of innocent Kashmiris," he said.
RESTRICTIONS IN SRINAGAR PARTS
The authorities had imposed strict curbs in various parts of Srinagar that include MahrajGunj, Rainawari, SafaKadal, Khanyar and Nowhatta in Downtown and Maisuma area in civil lines.
"Rolls of concertina wires were also placed on the main roads in Downtown to enforce restrictions," a witness said. He said police and paramilitary soldiers, wearing riot-gear, patrolled roads to foil any attempt by the people to assemble and protest.
SEPARATISTS REMAIN CAGED
While as senior Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani continues to remain confined to his Hyderpora residence, JKLF chief Muhammad Yasin Malik, who was detained on Wednesday during a protest seeking release of Kashmiri prisoners, continues to remain lodged in police station Kothibagh. Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was also placed under house arrest late on Friday evening. The police had also launched a massive crackdown on the middle-rung separatist leaders and placed them either under house-confinement or in preventive custody in various police stations. Some of them are Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Engineer Hilal War, Javaid Mir, Muhammad Ashraf Laya, ImtiyazHaider, MukhtarWaza, GhulamNabiZaki, and many others. According to a JKLF spokesman, three Front leaders—Noor Muhammad Kalwal, ShowkatBakshi and Muhammad SaleemNanaji—were detained from their Srinagar residences on Saturday.
(With inputs from Ejaz-ul-Haq Bhat from Sopore)