Kashmir observed a complete shutdown on Monday to mark the 35th death anniversary of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front founder Muhammad MaqboolBhat, who was hanged in New Delhi's Tihar jail on this day in 1984.
The shutdown call, given by the Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik, evoked a near-total response across Kashmir.
In city centreLalChowk, all commercial establishments remained closed while traffic was off the roads.
A witness said heavy deployment of the police and Central Reserve Police Force personnel was made in LalChowk, while the road from Amira Kadal to the clock tower (ghantaghar) was blocked with concertina wire to foil any possible bid by the resistance leadership to stage a protest there. In Downtown areas, the police and CRPF personnel wearing riot-gear were seen manning the roads to foil protests aimed at seeking return of mortal remains of Bhat and Muhammad Afzal Guru.
The shutdown call evoked complete response in almost all southern districts including Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag.
A similar response was also seen in northern districts of Kupwara, Baramulla, and Bandipora, and in central districts of Budgam and Ganderbal. The authorities had deployed heavy contingents of the police and paramilitary CRPF men on the streets and erected naka at entry points to Trehgam—the native village of MaqboolBhat in Kupwara district—to foil any possible protests. "There are no restrictions but the deployment of forces was made to maintain law and order," said a police official. People in large number thronged the residence of MaqboolBhat and offered 'fateha' prayers there.
"Maqbool Bhat sacrificed his life for the welfare of people of Kashmir. We will always remember him in our prayers," said a resident of Trehgam.
On Sunday evening, scores of people including the family members and relatives of MaqboolBhat took out a peaceful candlelight march in Tregam. It was led by Bhat's sister Mehmooda Begum from their house up to the main Trehgam market. Meanwhile, the police personnel deployed in Trehgam barred journalists from visiting Bhat's residence.
JRL ACTIVISTS HOLD RALLY, MANY DETAINED
Many JRL activists and leaders were detained by the police after they took out a rally in Maisuma area of Srinagar to demand the mortal remains of Muhammad Afzal Guru and Muhammad MaqboolBhat.
According to a JRL statement, those detained were Sheikh Abdul Rashid, Imtiyaz Ahmad Shah, professor Javed, Javed Ahmad Butt, Fayaz Ahmad Lone, Abdur Rashid Lone, Irshad Aziz, Shakir Ahmad Ahangar, Mukhtar Ahmad and Imtiyaz Ahmad Ganai. "Many women leaders and activists including Muslim KhawateenMarkazchief Yasmin Raja, DilshadaBano, Afroza Akhtar, NaseemaBano were also detained by the police during the protest," the statement read. Earlier, leaders and activists of JRL along with people from different walks of life gathered near JKLF office at Maisuma and marched towards LalChowk.
RESISTANCE LEADERS REMAIN CAGED
Majority of the resistance leaders, who were either placed under house detention or lodged in various police stations ahead of the death anniversaries of Guru and Bhat, continued to remain under detention.
Syed Ali Geelani, the Hurriyat (G) chairman, continued to remain under house arrest at his Hyderpora residence, while the Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also remained under house detention at his Nigeen residence. A source said that JKLF chief Muhammad Yasin Malik, who was detained on Wednesday, was released along with two Front leaders, ShowkatBakshi and Ghulam Muhammad Dar. The other leaders who continued to remain under detention include Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, engineer Hilal War, Javaid Ahmed Mir, Muhammad Ashraf Laya, Syed ImtiazHaider, Mukhtar Ahmed Waza and many others.
CURBS, EVENING CLASHES IN SRINAGAR
The police had imposed restrictions under section 144 in majority of Downtown areas in Srinagar, including MahrajGunj, Rainawari, SafaKadal, Nowhatta, and Khanyar, while as similar restrictions were in place in Maisuma area of civil lines. A witness said youth resorted to stone-pelting in Sekidafar and Eidgah areas of old Srinagar, where forces in turn resorted to tear-gas shelling to disperse the protestors. Mild stone-pelting incidents were also witnessed in KaniKadal and HabbaKadal areas.