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HindustanTimes Mon,14 Jul 2014

Bengal verdict jolts Kashmir

Ravik Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, July 26, 2013
First Published: 12:41 IST(26/7/2013) | Last Updated: 12:44 IST(26/7/2013)

Life sentence meted out to two inmates in Bengal has put Kashmir on the boil, and for the first time, united mainstream and separatist leaders, along with militant groups.

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For the past week, protests have broken out in Srinagar, and apart from separatists and political parties, militant organisations have also condemned the verdict.

A number of protest rallies and processions have been carried out and on July 19, the High Court Bar Association even observed a day’s cease work.

Both separatists and mainstream leaders like Mustafa Kamal, additional general secretary of ruling National Conference, Sajjad Lone, chairman of People’s Conference, Yasin Malik of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of All Party Hurriyat Conference and even United Jehad Council, an amalgamation of all militant outfits, condemned the verdict.

Meanwhile, family members have appealed to Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to look into the issue.

Two Kashmiri youths, Sheikh Imran and Sheikh Farhat who spent 10 years behind bars in Bengal, were sentenced to life imprisonment by a sessions court.

The Kashmiri duo along with others, were given life imprisonment for allegedly smuggling truckload of ammunition from China to militants in Kashmir.

The ruling National Conference issued a statement dubbing the verdict as
‘injustice’.

“The sentence pronounced by a court in Kolkata is completely unacceptable and there are many cases which have proven that innocent Kashmiris are being detained in jail,” said Kamal, in a statement issues last week.

“While the anguish felt by every Kashmiri is obvious and palpable, the pain inflicted on the families of these young men who have already spent 10 years in prison cannot be imagined,” Lone said in a statement showing solidarity with the family members of the convicts.

For the past week, a number of protest marches and processions took place in Srinagar following the verdict and leaders of all political parties visited the home of the two Kashmiri convicts.

Family members also held numerous press conferences and joined in the protests. Jammu and Kashmir Salvation Movement chairman, Zaffer Akbar Bhat, who protested along with the family members, called for a complete shutdown in the state.

The High Court Bar Association also supported the protesters and observed a cease work in courts across Kashmir on July 19.

Stone pelting was reported at a number of areas in Srinagar and there was a virtual shutdown that day.

Protests went on for three consecutive days.

Meanwhile, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq continued to condemn the verdict and led a procession to the home of one of the inmates in Karfila Mohalla in Srinagar.

He stated that the Hurriyat continues to fight against such life sentences to Kashmiris and the issue will be raised before international human rights organisations.


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