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Indian-held Jammu Kashmir paralyzed by general strike

10th Feb 2016
Indian-held Jammu Kashmir paralyzed by general strike

By Zahid Rafiq

 

SRINAGAR, Jammu Kashmir (AA): Indian-held Jammu Kashmir on Tuesday saw a complete general strike organized to commemorate the third anniversary of the death of Afzal Guru, who was hanged by the Indian authorities for his alleged role in a 2001 attack on India’s parliament.

Called for by pro-independence leaders, the strike was accompanied by reports of clashes in certain parts of the disputed region despite the presence of thousands of Indian troops in riot gear.

Shops in major business areas were closed throughout the day, while public transportation remained grounded for the most part.

Fearing protests, the government also partially suspended train services in the Kashmir Valley and imposed a curfew in parts of Srinagar in an effort to ensure residents remained in their homes.

“Restrictions will remain in force in areas falling under jurisdictions of Rainawari, Nowhatta, M.R. Gunj, Safakadal and Kralkhud police stations in Srinagar city,” Farooq Ahmad Lone, district magistrate of Srinagar, announced.

In the run-up to the anniversary, the Indian authorities — in hopes of preempting any protests or marches — arrested several pro-independence leaders, including Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik.

Guru was hanged in Tihar Prison on Feb. 9, 2013 at the age of 43 after an Indian court convicted him of involvement in a 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi.

India’s Supreme Court had declared at the time that the “collective conscience of the [Indian] society will be satisfied only if the death penalty is awarded to Afzal Guru”.

Guru’s body was buried inside the prison grounds while his family was not informed of the date of his execution.

Since his death, his family and the region’s pro-independence leadership have continued to demand Guru’s remains.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — since the partition of the latter in 1947. Two of the conflicts were fought over Kashmir.

Since 1989, Kashmiri resistance groups in Jammu Kashmir have fought Indian rule to demand independence or unification with Pakistan.

Tens of thousands of Kashmiris have reportedly been killed so far in the violence, most of them by Indian forces.

 
[Photo: Regualr protests take place in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Indian security forces fire tear gas at protesters after funeral of Shair Ahmad of Hizbul Mujahideen in Pulwama on 20 January 2016. Photographer: Faisal Khan/AA]

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