Strike shuts Kashmir to remember Afzal Guru executed by India
SRINAGAR: Shops and businesses shut in Indian-occupied Kashmir on Sunday and authorities imposed a lockdown in some parts of the disputed region’s main city after Kashmiris called for a strike to mark the anniversary of the execution of a Kashmiri man who was convicted in an attack on the Indian Parliament.
Hundreds of police and paramilitary soldiers patrolled largely deserted streets in Srinagar. Authorities put old parts of the city under lockdown, with major roads blocked by razor wire and barricades in anticipation of anti-India protests and possible violence. Public transport was largely off the roads.
Most Kashmiris, who have long demanded that the region be given independence or allowed to merge with neighboring Pakistan, were incensed when in 2013, Mohammed Afzal Guru was secretly hanged in a New Delhi jail on charges of being involved in a 2001 Parliament attack that killed 14 people, including five gunmen.
Most people in Kashmir believe Guru was not given a fair trial, and the covert execution led to days of deadly anti-India protests in the Muslim-majority region, where anti-India sentiment runs deep.
Separatists have also called for a strike on Feb. 11 to mark the day in 1984 when pro-independence leader Mohammed Maqbool Butt was hanged in the same New Delhi jail after being convicted of killing an intelligence officer.
Separatists demand that the two men’s remains, buried within the jail compound, be returned to the region.
Meanwhile, police on Saturday summoned two journalists for questioning in Srinagar for reporting about the strike call issued by the pro-independence Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front.
The Kashmir Press Club called it harassment.
“It has become a routine with police to summon journalists for their stories,” said Ishfaq Tantray, the club’s general-secretary. “It is an attempt by the law enforcement agencies to define new terms of journalism in Kashmir. They’re trying to define to us what we should report and how we should report.”
Police in a statement said they registered a case against the separatist group for “attempts to incite violence and disturb law and order situation.” – AP