July 2017 News

Kashmiri Separatists Plan Week-long Protests To Mark Hizbul Militant Burhan Wani's Death

4 July 2017
The Hindustan Times
Toufiq Rashid

Srinagar: The separatist leadership in the Kashmir Valley has called a week-long protest to mark the first death anniversary of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, whose death plunged the restive region into unprecedented public unrest. The programme includes a complete shutdown on July 8, the day the militant leader was killed last year, and July 13 when 22 Kashmiris died during protests against the regime of Maharaja Hari Singh in Srinagar in 1931. More than 100 people lost their lives in prolonged clashes with security forces after Wani's death. The protest call came from separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, moderates Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF leader Yasin Malik and more. The leadership asked people to visit homes of slain militant leaders on July 9. Kashmiris, especially those living abroad, are asked to mount a social media campaign on July 11. The separatist protest coincides with a similar call by the United Jehad Council (UJC), an umbrella group of militant outfits, to mark Wani's death. The twin programmes have the potential to aggravate the situation in the Valley, where anti-India sentiments are running high over alleged heavy-handed action by security forces to quell the separatist movement. The Pakistan-based Hizbul chief Syed Salahuddin, whom the US declared a global terrorist this June, said in a video message that Hafta-e-Shuhuda, or week of the martyrs, will be observed on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC). The LoC is the de-facto border in Kashmir between India and Pakistan. It is the first time militant organisations, including those based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, have issued calendar of protest. Salahuddin asked the people to begin the programme on July 7, followed by shutdowns on July 8 and July 13 across the state. On July 10 and 11, he wants people to visit families of militants and help them with money. The Hizbul leader's schedule is similar to that of the Hurriyat separatist leadership. The Hurriyat has been taking the lead in calling protests and strikes in Kashmir since militancy gripped the region in the 1990s. But this time, the militant leader has allegedly prodded the separatists to 'modify' their programme.