Separatists in Kashmir have decided to resort to a rare mode of protest to build pressure on the central government to return the body of the executed Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru to his family -- wall graffiti and sloganeering on social networking sites.
On Friday, Hardline Hurriyat Confernce, which is spearheading the agitation over the issue, appealed to the people to resume normal life from Saturday, but organise evening prayer meetings and recitations of the Quran for Guru and other 'martyrs' till February 25.
"(Syed Ali Shah) Geelani sahib has also appealed to the people to write a slogan on the street walls of the valley - 'Return the body of Afzal Guru'. The same slogan will be posted on social networking sites like Facebook up to February 25," acting Hurriyat chairman Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai told the Hindustan Times over phone from Srinagar.
Sehrai and Geelani, who are in Delhi these days, have been under house arrest since February 9, when Guru was hanged. Moderate separatist leadership has also not been allowed inside their houses.
This is first time that separatists and their supporters, on whom the police have maintained a tight grip, have resorted to graffiti protest and sloganeering on social networking sites.
In another significant development, Hardline Hurriyat responded to the moderate Hurriyat's suggestion to form a new alliance for 'joint coordinated efforts' to bring back the Guru's body.
"Geelani sahib is willing to issue the future protest calendar only after a joint meeting of all pro-freedom parties, like Mirwaiz Umar Farooq's Hurriyat or Yasin Malik's JKLF, and other separatists groups," said Sehrai.
"We ask all groups to organise a meeting and discuss the future course of action," he added.
Hurriyat unity, though only over Guru's body, has come amid appeals from militants groups, like Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba, to join hands.
Since the hanging of Guru, separatists have launched a protest campaign. Even an empty grave and epitaph was planted for Guru in Srinagar.
For the second consecutive day, life in valley remained crippled on Friday. The shutdown call from separatists, inviting curfew-like restrictions by the authorities in Srinagar and Budgam districts, saw little movement of people and vehicles in the Valley.
According to the police, the situation remained peaceful across the valley. "There were incidents of stone pelting at Qaimoh, Kulgam and Trehgam. The police exercised maximum restraint, while dealing with law and order situations. One woman was injured at Qaimoh. She has been admitted to hospital for treatment," said the spokesman.
Meanwhile, moderate Hurriyat chairman Umar Farooq has denounced the government move to disallow people from participating in Friday prayers.