A complete shutdown was observed across Kashmir Sunday amid restrictions in parts of Srinagar city and Kupwara district to commemorate the death anniversary of Mohammad Maqbool Bhat, who was hanged and buried in Tihar Jail, New Delhi in 1984.
Authorities imposed restrictions under section 144 CrPc in the areas falling under police stations including Khanyar, Rainawari, Nowhatta, Safakadal, MR Gunj in downtown and Maisuma and Kralkhud in the uptown area of Srinagar.
A complete shutdown was observed across Kashmir. Shops and business establishments remained shut while traffic also remained off the roads. However, few private vehicles were seen plying in civil line area of Srinagar and other parts of Valley.
The restrictions were imposed as a precautionary measure in view of a strike call by joint resistance leadership (JRL) to pay homage to Bhat on his 34th death anniversary.
Similarly, restrictions were also imposed in and around Bhat’s hometown at Trehgam and main town of Kupwara in north Kashmir.
Witnesses said that heavy contingent of police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were deployed in downtown areas of Srinagar to prevent public processions and protests on Bhat’s anniversary. They said coils of concertina wires and barricades were placed on main roads and major flash points to restrict public movement and prevent law and order problems.
In Maisuma speratist leaders and activists of joint resistance leadership (JRL) took out a protest procession and tried to march towards the United Nations Military Observers Group in Indian and Pakistan office at Sonwar, Srinagar, to submit a memorandum to UN, demanding return of his and Afzal Guru’s mortal remains from New Delhi.
The protesting JRL members were carrying banners and chanting pro-Bhat and pro-Kashmir slogans.
Witnesses said, the team of police, however, restricted JRL supporters from moving ahead from Maisuma Chowk and were detained. A local resident of downtown said that a very thin movement of the public was allowed by forces amid frisking. Authorities also imposed restrictions in main town of Kupwara, neighbouring Trehgam and Kralpora areas.
According to locals, heavy contingents of forces were deployed at entry and exit points of Trehgam while coils of concertina wires were laid on roads to foil protests and bar people from visiting the home of Bhat.
“People had to bear tough experience by choosing inner link and alternate routes to reach Bhat’s home to offer condolence prayers. People were largely not allowed to move out from their homes,” said a local resident.
Another local resident said that womenfolk tried to take a protest march towards the main road at Trehgam but they were prevented by large number of force personnel.
He said people Saturday evening took out a torch procession to commemorate Bhat and demanded the return of his mortal remains.
Meanwhile, all the top separatist leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq were placed under house arrest, while JKLF head, Yasin Malik was lodged in Central Jail to prevent them from leading any protest programme.
“The Nation pays glowing tribute to the supreme sacrifice of #ShaheedMaqboolBhat on the 34th death anniversary of his hanging in #TiharJail. The sacrifices of our brave hearts are our guiding light to stay steadfast and patient in our just struggle for self-determination,” Mirwaiz wrote on Twitter.
JLKF co-founder, a native of Trehgam village in Kupwara, was hanged inside Tihar Jail in New Delhi on 11 February 1984.