September 2006 News

Death Penalty Sparks Protest Clash In Kashmir

27 September 2006
Agence France-Presse

Srinagar: Police in revolt-hit Indian Kashmir fired teargas Wednesday in clashes with protesters after a judge ordered the execution of a Muslim convicted of helping mastermind an attack on parliament. The clashes erupted a day after an Indian judge told authorities to hang Mohammed Afzal, a Kashmiri, on October 20 at New Delhi's Tihar Jail over the 2001 attack that brought nuclear-armed India and Pakistan close to war. Scores of protesters shouting 'Afzal is innocent, release him' poured into the streets of Sringar, summer capital of Indian Kashmir where an insurgency has raged against New Delhi's rule since 1989.Police set up barricades and used teargas and batons to disperse the demonstrators who pelted stones at security forces, burnt tyres and forced shops to close. innocent, release him' 'Some 20 people including Yasin Malik, have been detained,' a police officer said, referring to the leader of the pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). Last month, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence against Afzal over the attack in which five heavily armed attackers stormed parliament on December 13, 2001 and killed nine people before guards shot them dead. The Supreme Court said there was no doubt of Afzal's complicity in carrying out the 'terrorist act of most diabolical nature'. India blamed the attack on Pakistan, a charge Islamabad rejected. Afzal can still seek clemency from India's president, but the president's office has said no plea has yet been received. However, the Hindustan Times newspaper quoted Afzal's lawyers as saying he would file a mercy plea to the president. India's Supreme Court authorises executions only rarely in what it considers the most heinous crimes and they are regularly delayed indefinitely or commuted by the president.


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