Kashmir’s jinxed June cast its shadow on Sunday as hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani called for a shutdown on June 11. The state authorities responded with a non-bailable warrant against Geelani in a pre-militancy era case.
The face-off has security forces on tenterhooks again.
After a meeting of all Hurriyat constituents on Sunday, Geelani (82), who took the centrestage in the 2010 civil unrest, appealed to the common masses, traders and student community to observe a complete shutdown on June 11.
“June 11 will be observed as commemorative day for all those 300 people who laid their lives in a peaceful struggle since 2008. Those who died in 2010 are out national heroes and people should visit their graves and pay tributes to the martyrs…the shutdown will be observed also to force the state government to lodge cases against the security forces involved in the killings and release all Hurriyat leaders and supporters put behind the bars,” said Geelani at his residence after the meeting.
Apprehensive of the Hurriyat galvanizing street support again around the casualties of the 2010 unrest, which left 112 people dead in a five-month long civil unrest sparked off by the killing of schoolboy on June 11, 2010, the state government had taken preventive measures in advance.
A Kupwara sessions judge issued a non-bailable warrant against Geelani on Sunday afternoon in a 1985 case under Section 153 (A), which is provoking public sentiment.
“Geelani sahib laughed at the warrant. He does not even remember the speech. He faces hundreds of such cases across the valley. This is a move to break the resolve of Geelani sahib but such tactics have failed in the past. Nothing can cow down Geelani sahib,” Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akbar told the Hindustan Times.
The move was expected as Geelani made his intentions clear. “Atmosphere of uncertainty will continue here till India forcefully holds on Kashmir through security forces. Which way the situation can turn cannot be predicted,” said a joint statement issued by the Hurriyat executive council.
The statement was quick to add, “Hurriyat aspires for a peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute but unfortunately a peaceful struggle is being crushed with brute force by the state. Kashmiris are left with no option but to resort of general shutdown protest”.
“Even if we are in need of peace the most and we wish peace, the government is pushing us to the wall by banning our peaceful political activities,” said Geelani.
Since 2008, the year Amarnath land row left Kashmir paralysed, the state has witnessed trouble starting in June for three consecutive years, till 2010. In 2009, the Shopian double murder case had shutdown the valley for forty days.
The state is leaving nothing to chance. More than 5,000 people, who participated in the 2010 protests, have been booked and those released among them continue to be under surveillance. Even social networking sites are under scanner to stop any public mobilization on the pattern of last year.
“We are taking all precautions this year,” said a senior police officer on the condition of anonymity.