It was a gesture that went unnoticed. About a dozen CRPF personnel manning a bunker outside Mirwaiz Manzil in Srinagar were saved from mob fury by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and his men on Tuesday evening.
They were sheltered in the building, which houses the headquarters of the Awami Action Committee led by the Mirwaiz, as a mob of several thousand passed by.
Mirwaiz Manzil has a CRPF bunker right outside it. Sand-bagged bunkers were set up in Kashmir, especially in Srinagar, in the 1990s to keep a watch on militants’ movements and respond to militancy-related action.
This bunker was an obvious target for a highly charged procession returning from the burial of Hurriyat Conference leader Shaikh Abdul Aziz. The Hurriyat leader was killed in police firing in Chahal during the Muzaffarabad Chalo march on Monday.
As the mob approached Mirwaiz Manzil, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and his men took the CRPF men inside the building and kept them there until the procession had passed.
The Mirwaiz, who is also chairman of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, had appealed to the angry mobs at Shaikh Aziz’s funeral to maintain peace. He told HT on the phone from Srinagar, “We don't want to hurt anyone.”
In fact, he did not see anything great in his gesture or worth sharing with the media.
Sheikh Aziz was buried at the Idgah’s Martyrs’ Graveyard, where Mirwaiz Umer Farooq’s father Moulvi Mohammad Mirwaiz Farooq — assassinated in May 1990 — is buried.
Earlier, at the Idgah, both the Mirwaiz and hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani had appealed to the people to maintain peace and not target the security forces. “Those pelting even a single stone on them would be treated as the ones betraying the movement and committing an enemy act,” Geelani had said.