Guru's death sentence gives fresh life to separatists
27 September 2006
The Daily Excelsior
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Srinagar: That a wave of public sympathy is thickening in his favour and the Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru is threatening to die as another Maqbool Bhat-martyr to a controversial-turned-popular cause- was tell-tale in this capital city today as the badly marginalised separatist leadership was out on the streets with a cause. Amid protest demonstrations at various places, notably the University of Kashmir campuses, as many as 20 separatist activists, including JKLF's Yasin Malik and Javed Mir, were taken into custody by Police, detained for the day and released late in the evening. News of Guru's date of execution at Delhi's Tihar Jail, frontpaged by most of the leading newspapers, spread unrest in many directions as shops and other business establishments did not open in Civil Lines. JKLF chairman Yasin Malik and his estranged lieutenant Javed Mir were quick to capitalise on the public sentiment as they organised separate demonstrations in Maisuma locality. Malik told mediapersons that hanging the 'innocent' Guru to death would produce a fresh breed of Maqbool Bhats in the Valley. 'India has to realise that Maqbool Bhat's execution at Tihar Jail over two decades ago led to a situation that created thousands of Maqbool Bhats'. He said that he would send a passionate appeal of mercy to the Indian head of State 'the way I met General Musharraf in Pakistan and implored him not to implement the death sentence of an Indian Punjabi Sikh prisoner'. Yasin and his supporters proceeded on a march towards Civil Lines while chanting slogans and seeking annulment of the capital punishment being awarded to Guru. Police swung into action and packed Malik and his associates into the waiting vehicles. They were detained for the day at Police Station Kothibagh. Meanwhile, Yasin's one-time confidante and estranged lieutenant Javed Mir staged an identical demonstration at Maisuma, in Budshah Chowk area. He too was whisked away, alongwith a group of his activists, and detained at the nearby Police Station of Maisuma for the whole day. The third major crackdown took place at Regal Chowk when Police swooped on the Hurriyat Geelani leader Ghulam Nabi Sumjhi (Chairman of Muslim Conference, a constituent of the Hurriyat G) and took him into custody alongwith over a dozen of the Hurriyat activists. After Yasin, Javed and Sumjhi were lifted from three different spots in uptown, demonstrators resorted to burning of rubber-tyres, slogan shouting and stone pelting on the Police. Police retaliated with tearsmoke guns and a severe baton charge. Eight Police personnel are believed to have sustained minor injuries in their clash with the Maisuma residents. At least six of the demonstrators, as also a woman namely Haseena w-o Nazir Ahmed R-o Basant Bagh, sustained injuries in the ding-ding clashes with Police. Haseena got hurt when a tearsmoke shell hit her in the front. Late tonight, SSP Srinagar, Syed Ahfadul Mujtaba, confirmed the detention of 20 separatist activists but added that all of them had been let off in the evening. JKLF sources told the EXCELSIOR that Malik reached back to him home. Javed, Sumjhi and their associates were also believed to have reached back home. Muslim Khawateen Markaz and Dukhtaraan-e- Millat also attempted to take out demonstration processions but were dispersed by Police with a baton charge. Khawateen supremo Yasmeen Raja was arrested and detained for the day with four more of her activists. They too were let off in the evening. University of Kashmir campus at Hazratbal witnessed a massive protest demonstration as the students refused to attend classes and shouted slogans against the judicial verdict and possible implementation of Guru's death sentence. On the other hand, almost all courts remained shut for the Bar Association went out on a protest and no cases were listed for hearing. In a succession of statements, almost all of the separatist parties and leaders condemned possible execution of Afzal Guru, called him 'innocent' and dismissed the Supreme Court verdict as 'an act of vendetta against the Kashmiris'. Head of the Hurriyat (G) faction, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, called for 'mass protests' on September 28th and a total shutdown in Kashmir valley on September 29th. Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz faction, High Court Bar Association, Islamic Political Party, Muslim League and Republican Movement too condemned the Supreme Court verdict of capital punishment to Guru and demanded his release from jail. Democratic Freedom Party chairman Shabir Shah visited Guru's home in Sopore outskirts alongwith his party activists. Leaders of two constituents of the Hurriyat Geelani also called on Guru's family. According to reports from different areas, indications are galore that the Valley's separatist leadership-which had been marginalised after this years' Assembly by-elections in Baramulla district and had been stealing political space out of foreign tours and visits of New Delhi-based diplomats-is bracing up to turn Afzal Guru into another Maqbool Bhat, another martyr to their cause. Even the mainstream politicians are surprised over the way the most significant days of the holy month of Ramzan-Shab-e-Qadr and Jumatul Vida-have been fixed for Guru's execution.