Ghalib, the teenage son of executed Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, made his first public appearance in Srinagar on Thursday, crying through a seminar organised by a splinter Hurriyat group led by Shabir Shah.
Ghalib shared the dais with separatists, academics and other speakers during the day-long seminar.
Significantly, Ghalib’s appearance came just a few days ahead of the first anniversary of Afzal Guru’s hanging on February 9 last year in Tihar jail.
During the seminar at a Srinagar hotel, a documentary on Guru and separatist JKLF founder Maqbool Bhat -- who was also hanged in Tihar Jail on February 11, 1984 -- was screened.
The screening was followed by sloganeering in favour of Guru and Bhat.
Ghalib, a Class 9 student, was seen crying on the dais and refused to talk to anyone. The seminar was also attended by Guru’s father-in-law and brother.
Ghalib’s mother was quoted by a newspaper recently as saying that he still believed "his father is alive".
The day-long seminar concluded with a resolution passed by several separatist leaders --- including Shah, Nayeem Khan, Mushtaq-ul-Islam --- who recently left the Mirwaiz group.
“India should immediately hand over the mortal remains of Bhat and Guru to their kith and kin, because to punish their bodies is an inhuman act,” read the resolution.
The separatists also rejected the dialogue process “if it is without the real representatives of Kashmiri people to resolve the dispute.”
“Any confidence building measure (CBM) regarding Kashmir should be of political nature and no other CBM is acceptable to the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” it said.
Immediately after the seminar, police arrested Shah, Khan, Islam and their supporters.
With just two days left for the first death anniversary of Guru, the police have started rounding up separatist leaders and supporters across the valley to foil any attempt to carry out rallies and seminars.
Several leaders of the hardline Hurriyat, headed by Syed Ali Geelani, have also been arrested.
Geelani has called for a three-day shutdown starting February 9.
The hardline leader, who is in Delhi these days, is scheduled to reach Srinagar soon to lead public rallies on the first death anniversary of Guru, seen by many as a martyr for Kashmir’s cause.