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Kashmir shuts on 35th anniversary of Maqbool Bhat

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JRL writes to UN, demands Bhat and Guru’s mortal remains

JRL activists being taken into custody by police following a protest march near Lal Chowk. Photo/Javed Khan

Srinagar, Feb 11: Normal life in Kashmir was affected Monday due to a strike called by separatists to mark the 35th death anniversary of JKLF founder Mohammad Maqbool Bhat, who was hanged on this day in 1984 in Delhi’s Tihar jail.

Shops and business establishments remained closed while public transport was off roads due to the shutdown. However, in certain areas of uptown city, roadside vendors went about their business as usual while cabs, auto-rickshaws and even buses plied on some routes.

Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), consisting of both factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF, had called the shutdown to demand that Bhat’s mortal remains be returned for burial in Kashmir.

The authorities had placed Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and several other separatist leaders under house arrest to prevent them from holding protest marches.

Police and paramilitary personnel were deployed at “vulnerable places” in the Valley while the movement of people was also restricted in some areas of Srinagar, including Maisuma, the JKLF stronghold.

Police also detained scores of JRL activists during a protest to demand the return of mortal remains of Maqbool Bhat in the area today.

Scores of the JRL activists and supporters assembled at Maisuma and staged a protest to demand the return of mortal remains of Butt and Afzal Guru.

Witnesses said that policemen deployed in the area swung into action and bundled the protesters into police vans.

Bhat was hanged and buried inside Tihar jail on February 11, 1984, following his conviction in the killing of an intelligence official.

A complete shutdown was also observed in Kupwara, native district of Butt.

All the business establishments were closed and traffic was off the roads in Kupwara town with heavy deployment of forces at Bhat’s native village Trehgam.

On Sunday evening, scores of people staged a candlelight protest in Trehgam to commemorate his death anniversary.

Meanwhile, the JRL on Monday said it submitted a memorandum to the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres to seek return of mortal remains of Maqbool Bhat and Afzal Guru.

According to the memorandum, contents of which were shared with the media, JRL said “the two prominent heroes of Kashmir freedom struggle” were executed in the Tihar Jail of New-Delhi and buried inside the premises of Tihar Jail – denying their kin legal right to give them proper burial and funeral.

“It is not only our assertion but the opinion of many human rights organizations, activists and justice-loving people around the globe that both ideologues Mohammad Maqbool Bhat and Mohammad Afzal Guru’s execution was based on politically-motivated judgments and against all norms of justice and fairness. They were executed just to ‘satisfy the collective conscience’ of the Indian society rather than on the basis of concrete evidence or the principle of fair justice,” JRL memorandum read, adding that it has been the constant demand of the people of Jammu & Kashmir to get their mortal remains so that they are given an appropriate and dignified burial.

“The demand is completely genuine and in accordance with the principles of law and justice. However, the successive governments of India have rejected this demand and refused to return the mortal remains of the two martyrs to the people.”

The memorandum calls upon the UN Secretary General to “effectively take up the issue with the government of India for the return of their mortal remains to their kith and the people of Jammu & Kashmir.”





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