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Mixed response to Hurriyat’s shutdown call in Kashmir

The Hurriyat Conference called a bandh in Kashmir to protest against the arrest of seven separatists in a terror-funding case.

india Updated: Jul 25, 2017 19:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
A woman walks on a deserted street in downtown Srinagar on Tuesday. Normal life was hit in the old parts of the city following Hurriyat’s shutdown call and authorities restricting movement of the people. (Waseem Andrabi / HT photo)

Vehicles remained off the road and shops were closed in downtown Srinagar in response to a shutdown called by the Hurriyat Conference on Tuesday, a day after seven Kashmiri separatists were arrested in a case of terror funding.

While normal life came to a standstill in the old town, where authorities imposed restriction on movement of the people, in other parts of the city, vehicles moved freely and markets were open.

Schools and colleges, however, were shut across the city.

The National Investigation Agency on Monday arrested hardline Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Ahmed Shah and six others in a probe it is conducting to ascertain if funds from Pakistan were used to fuel last year’s unrest in the Valley that left 100 people, most of them civilians, dead.

Calling for a bandh, the Hurriyat Conference said the case was fabricated and the NIA was misleading people.

In response, district authorities barred assembly of four or more people by imposing Section 144 in the old city’s Rainawari, Khanyar, Nowhatta, Safa Kadal and other areas.

Local train services remained suspended.

Similar reports of a mixed response were received from other district headquarters of the Valley, officials said. Inter-district transport was also plying on some routes. Government offices and banks functioned normally, the officials said.

The NIA was to bring Shah, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat’s Ayaz Akbar and Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Shahid-ul-Islam, who is from the Mirwaiz faction of the Hurriyat, Nayeem Khan of the Jammu Kashmir National Front and Peer Saifullah to Delhi on Tuesday after their arrest in Srinagar. Former Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front militant Farooq Ahmed Dar aka Bitta Karatay was taken into custody in New Delhi.

On social media, the bandh call elicited considerable criticism while some users said how there were traffic jams in parts of the city despite the call.

A journalist Majid Hyderi posted: “Traffic jams in Srinagar in response to Sasur ji’s hartaal call against damaad ji’s arrest is eye-opener.”

Another journalist, Fahad Shah, wrote: “I think tomorrow’s strike call by Hurriyat is illogical, looking at what is the reason they give for it. A youth was shot dead in Budgam the other day and there was no shutdown but some “leaders” and son-in-law of a leader gets arrested so Kashmir has to shutdown. What frenzy is this?!”

Before the arrests, the NIA raided places across Kashmir, New Delhi and Haryana looking for evidence of separatist leaders and businessmen receiving funds from Hafiz Saeed, who heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawa group, and other Pakistan-based militant outfits.

Kashmir was rocked by violent street protests after Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani was killed in a gunfight with security forces on July 8, 2016, with stone-throwing mobs clashing with security forces almost every day.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Jul 25, 2017 14:09 IST