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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Kashmir under curfew on Afzal hanging anniversary

Agencies  Srinagar, February 09, 2014
First Published: 14:59 IST(9/2/2014) | Last Updated: 17:09 IST(9/2/2014)

Most of Kashmir was under curfew on Sunday to prevent protests to mark the first anniversary of the hanging of December 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, which fanned anger last year in the region.

Shops and other businesses were shut and traffic was thin in Srinagar and other towns, as a result of the curfew and after separatist groups called a strike across the region for the anniversary.

Guru was executed on February 9 last year and buried inside a prison in Delhi after being convicted over the on Parliament left 10 people dead.

Guru always insisted he was innocent, while protesters in Kashmir have often accused the police of framing him.

Fearing the anniversary will reignite protests, authorities have shutdown mobile internet services in major populated areas, and thousands of police and paramilitary forces were patrolling most roads, said a senior police officer on condition of anonymity.

Internet services on mobile phones and plug-in devices were suspended early morning although broadband connections through landline phones were functioning as usual.

There was no official explanation for the move, but sources said the services may have been temporarily withdrawn to prevent their use for the spreading of “rumours”.

A paramilitary trooper stands guard in front of shuttered shops during a curfew in Srinagar. (AFP Photo)

"We were told by patrolling police officers in the morning to remain inside," Abdul Hafeez, a resident of Srinagar, said.

Separatists have called for a three-day strike beginning Sunday to press their demand for the return of Guru's remains to his family. Authorities have been criticised for failing to inform the family about the execution before he was sent to the gallows.

Groups have also demanded the return of the remains of Maqbool Bhat, a founder of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, from the same prison.

The February 11, 1984 anniversary of the hanging of Bhat is usually marked by attempts to organise large rallies and a general strike.

Ahead of the anniversary of Guru's execution, Indian police cracked down on separatists, detaining more than 200 activists from across the Kashmir valley, according to separatists and a police officer.

A Kashmiri woman walks past police personal standing near a barbed wire roadblock during a curfew in Srinagar. (AFP Photo)

Most separatist leaders were detained in different police stations and the top ones restricted to their houses to prevent them from leading protest demonstrations, the officer said.

Yasin Malik, chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), along with dozens of his supporters tried to take out a protest march from his office in Maisuma towards city centre Lal Chowk.

Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel intercepted the march at Maisuma and took Malik and some of his supporters into preventive custody. Malik has been evading arrest for the last few days since the announcement of his decision to lead the march on Sunday.


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