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Monday, February 8, 2010

Valley completes 8 days of shutdown over 2 killings
Geelani, Mirwaiz ask Kashmiris to resume business, observe bandh on Feb 11


SRINAGAR, Feb 8: Reeling under 8th consecutive day of shutdown over killing of two young students allegedly at the hands of Police and security forces in Srinagar, Kashmir valley showed so signs of returning to normality even as heads of both factions of the separatist Hurriyat Conference today asked the Kashmiris to end the uncalled strike and resume business from Tuesday.

Valley today completed eight days of continuous shutdown that had begun with the death of a 15-year-old student, Wamiq Farooq Wani of Rainawari, allegedly in the teargas shelling of Police on a group of youngsters in downtown locality of Rajourikadal here on January 31st evening. While alleging that the boy had died due to getting hit in his head, both factions of Hurriyat Conference had called for a protest shutdown on February 1st.

Though he had pleaded that the teargas shelling was in defence after a group of youngsters subjected him and his colleagues to heavy stone pelting “without any reason and provocation”, Government had placed an Assistant Sub Inspector of Police under suspension and started a departmental inquiry into the incident within minutes of the student dying at a hospital on January 1st.

With the situation deteriorating and stone pelting from unruly groups intensifying on Police and armed forces, Government had enforced curfew without a formal declaration in half of the capital city later. As both, Government’s undeclared curfew and an unending shutdown, called by nobody, continued beyond one-day Hurriyat-sponsored bandh, in downtown Srinagar and businesses remained shut all over the Valley, another 16-year-old student, Zahid Farooq Shah, was hit, allegedly by BSF or CRPF personnel, when they fired upon him without any apparent provocation at Barin, close to the Valley’s CRPF headquarters, in Nishat area of Srinagar outskirts on February 5th.

Government has already launched two formal inquiries---one each by Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir and the local Police Station--- in addition to investigation by at least three intelligence agencies. Government functionaries, including two Ministers and CM’s Advisor, have visited the bereaved family but it has helped just a little in restoration of peace. Family members and residents have been demanding identification, arrest, prosecution and dismissal of the soldiers who, according to them, had fired upon the young student.

On 8th day of continuous shutdown in Valley and undeclared curfew in downtown Srinagar, heads of rival factions of separatist Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, have today asked the people of Kashmir to end the uncalled strike and resume usual business from tomorrow morning. They have, however, urged them to again observe a shutdown on the death anniversary of JKLF founder-leader Mohammad Bhat on February 11th. Convicted of the murder of a bank manager and a CID official, Bhat had been hanged to death at Delhi’s Tihar Jail on February 11th in 1984.

Meanwhile, authorities today placed most of the separatist leaders under “house arrest”, disallowing them any movement out of their respective residence in the capital city. While Geelani has been putting up at his New Delhi house since last month and Shabir Shah and Nayeem Khan have been detained inn the last few days, those placed under home detention today included Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Maulvi Abbas Ansari and Bilal Gani Lone. Mirwaiz had called for a protest march to Srinagar headquarters of United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) against the killing of two young students, allegedly by Police and paramilitary forces.

Authorities had put up barbed wire barriers at several places en route to UNMOGIP headquarters at Sonwar even as they enforced undeclared curfew strictly and did not allow common civilian movement in half of the capital city. Reports said that shutdown was near-total in other parts of Srinagar as also in rest of the Valley.

Police have reportedly arrested over a hundred youngsters in Srinagar for allegedly indulging in stone pelting and other forms of unarmed violence. Their screening process was reportedly underway and many of them were being detained under Public Safety Act (PSA). Those detained include a District & Sessions Judge Rashid Ali Dar’s brother-in-law, Ehsan Ahmed Bhat, who has been arrested in Rainawari area. Authoritative sources said that Police were close to laying hands on a network of stone pelters who were reportedly being paid handsomely by a hardcore separatist organization.


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