Kashmir Downs Shutters to Protest Death Sentence to a Kashmiri

Life in Indian administrated Kashmir came to a standstill on Friday in protest against the death sentence of Muhammed Afzal’s in connection with 2001 attack on the Indian parliament in New Delhi.

Streets in the summer capital Srinagar wore a deserted look and shops and business establishments remained closed in response to the shutdown call given by the chairman of the separatist ‘Tehreek e Hurriyat’ party, Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Several other separatist outfits including United jihad council an alliance of several militant organisations had supported today’s strike call demanding a reprieve for Afzal.

“Our innocent Kashmiri brethren has been awarded capital punishment without a fair trail. We support the strike call to show our support for Afzal,” said Imtiyaz Ahmed, a resident of Srinagar.

“This is another brutal act of the Indian Government to supress Kashmiris and thjis shows how India is treationg Kashmiris,” said Shaid a resident of down town locality in Srinagar.

Troubled Indian administrated Kashmir has been witnessing several protests and demonstrations against the capital punishment announced to Afzal over the last three days.

At 11.45 am on December 13, 2001 when the Indian parliament was full of high profile leaders, suspected militants struck and entered Indian Parliament House lawns breaching the security and started indiscriminate firing from AK-47 rifles and hurled grenades, killing Several police personnel and in retaliation five militants were also killed. A court in India’s capital city of Delhi on Tuesday fixed October 20 as the date for execution of Mohammed Afzal, the prime accused in the 2001 Parliament attack case. The Supreme Court of the country had also on August 4 last year confirmed the death sentence of Mohammed Afzal announced by a POTA court.

Meanwhile thousands of Kashmiris including men women and children took to the streets and clashed with police after the Friday prayers against the hanging of Muhammed Afzal Gooru. Scores of protestors including women came out in different parts of the summer capital, Srinagar, shouting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans and carrying placards which read “Don’t hang Afzal,” the protesters hurled rocks at police vehicles and burnt tyres to register their protest. In retaliation, the police used batons and fired teargas canisters to disperse the protesters. Many police were wounded in the stone-pelting and teargasing, reports said.

Police and CRPF troops resorted to a massive baton charge and lobbed scores of teargas canisters to disperse the protesters. Police also fired into the air and used water cannons to disperse the demonstrators. Fifteen people, including six police, sustained injuries in the clashes.

Similar protest demonstrations were witnessed in Maisuma, Basant Bagh, Rainawari and many other parts of the city.

Police arrested at least 10 activists and leaders of Hurriyat (Mirwaiz faction) near the amalgam headquarters at Rajbagh. The arrestees, including senior Hurriyat leader Shahid-ul-Islam, were on their way to Jamia Masjid to join protests.

Six photojournalists were also injured, two among them seriously, when soldiers of paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force beat them up during pro-Afzal Guru protests at Jamia Masjid in downtown Srinagar on Friday.

Suhail A. Wani
Suhail A. Wani is a writer from Kashmir. Suhail writes about local news and goings on in Kashmir, where he lives.