Complete shutdown was observed across Kashmir on Thursday to commemorate the death anniversary of Muhammad Afzal Guru, who was sent to gallows on February 9, 2013, in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.
Guru was buried inside Tihar Jail next to JKLF founder Muhammad Maqbool Bhat, who was hanged on February 11, 1984.
While mourners visited Guru’s Doabgah home in apple-town Sopore in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, the town witnessed protests and clashes between youth and security forces. The protestors were demanding return of mortal remains of Guru.
Normal life came to a grinding halt across Kashmir as the strike call given by the joint resistance leadership – Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik – evoked total response. All commercial establishments including shops remained closed while very thin traffic plied on the roads. Most of the streets including Lal Chowk, Residency Road, Jehangir Chowk wore a deserted look. Only a few private vehicles were plying on the roads.
Authorities had placed barricades at Clock Tower (Ghanta Ghar) and at Regal Chowk. Police and paramilitary CRPF men were deployed in strength and no vehicle was allowed to ply on Residency Road. Strict curbs were in place in Maisuma area of uptown. Similar restrictions were reported from various old Srinagar areas that include Nawa Kadal, Kawdara, Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rajouri Kadal and other adjoining areas. Residents of old Srinagar said that at many places concertina wires were placed on roads and people were asked to prove their identity. “However, the restrictions this time were mild,” they said.
Reports said that complete shutdown was observed in all the districts. Baramulla, Kupwara, Pulwama, Anantnag, Shopian and Kulgam observed complete strike to register protest against hanging of Guru.
Pertinently, Director General of Police Dr S P Vaid had told Greater Kashmir on Tuesday that there will be no curfew in any part of Kashmir but restrictions would be imposed in sensitive areas.
Protests in Sopore: Reports said that clashes erupted in Sopore area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district as youth were demanding return of mortal remains of Guru. Youth took to streets amid pro-freedom and pro-Guru slogans. Forces swung into action and fired dozens of tear canisters to disperse the protestors. The protestors, however, refused to budge and instead resorted to intense stone pelting triggering massive clashes, which remained on till late in the evening. In volatile Palhallan area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, clashes between protesting youths and police were reported this afternoon. Police foiled an attempt of youths who tried to march towards the highway, triggering clashes. Police lobbed scores of teargas shells at the protesting youths, the youths were later pushed towards the interior of the area where clashes continued till evening.
Mourners flood Guru’s house: Hundreds of people including pro-freedom activists visited the Doabgah residence of Guru to pay tributes to the deceased. The mourners offered special fateha prayers and expressed solidarity the wife and son of Guru. Authorities had imposed strict restrictions across Sopore.
Separatists caged: While Hurriyat Conference (G) Chairman Syed Ali Geelani continues to remain under house arrest at his Hyderpora residence, many leaders have been placed under house arrest which include Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Shabir Ahmad Shah, Ayaz Akbar, Nayem Ahmad Khan, Raja Meraj u Din, Muhammad Ashraf Laya, Muhammad Yasin Ataie, Syed Imtiyaz Hyder, Omer Adil Dar and others.
From the Hurriyat Conference (M) camp senior leader Mukhtar Ahmed Waza has been lodged in police station Sheerbagh and Engineer Hilal War has been placed under house arrest at his Maisuma residence.
Curbs in Lal Chowk on Friday: Authorities have decided to impose curfew like restrictions in Lal Chowk, Maisuma and Sonwar in a bid to foil the UN office chalo called by the joint resistance leadership.
[This article is authored by Abid Bashir and originally published by Greater Kashmir. Reproduced here with permission.]