Valley shuts to mark separatist leaders' assassination anniversary
Kashmir Valley observed a shutdown on Thursday to mark the anniversaries of assassination of two separatist leaders, even as the government imposed restrictions to foil a rally in the summer capital Srinagar.
The call for the shutdown was given by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the Valley's chief cleric and head of the moderate faction of the separatist alliance Hurriyat Conference.
The Mirwaiz's father and predecessor, Moulvi Mohammad Farooq was shot dead by unknown gunmen on May 21, 1990.
Later that, as supporters of the late cleric carried his body in a procession from the hospital, they were showered with bullets by paramilitary forces near Hawal. More than 50 people died.
Twelve years later, another separatist leader and head of the People's Conference, Abdul Gani Lone, was shot dead during a rally to mark the late Moulvi's killing at Eidgah.
Late Lone's son, Sajad Lone, is at present a cabinet minister in the PDP-BJP coalition government.
On Thursday, roads were deserted as people stayed indoors. Shops, schools and colleges were closed. In downtown Srinagar, restrictions were imposed in areas falling under six police stations - Khanyar, Maharaj Gunj, Nowhatta, Safakadal, Rainawari and Maisuma. Hundreds of policemen were seen patrolling the streets in these areas and rolls of concertina wire were placed at entry points.
Mirwaiz Umar had appealed to people to gather at the martyrs' cemetery in the downtown's Eidgah area, where his father lies buried.
The moderate separatist was put under house arrest, while the police also arrested some separatist leaders in nocturnal raids on Wednesday.
Residents have accused the ruling People's Democratic Party, saying they, after coming to power, resorted to the very "tactics" they would criticise the Omar Abdullah-led National Conference government for.