Total Pageviews

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Geelani’s yet another shutdown fails in Valley

Groups upset over hardliner’s meetings with BJP, ‘recognition’ to Maulana Shaukat’s killers

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Feb 7: With some of the separatist outfits publicly flaying Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s “recognition” of the detained ‘killers’ of Jamiat-e-Ahl-e-Hadith (JAH) chief Maulana Shaukat and others distancing from his current bonhomie with BJP leadership in New Delhi, the Hurriyat hawk’s call for shutdown against shifting of Kashmiri prisoners to jails outside the state evoked a lukewarm response in Kashmir valley.

Notwithstanding closed shops and business establishments in Srinagar Civil Lines and parts of few towns in South Kashmir, Geelani’s call for shutdown did not evoke a substantial response in the Valley today. Even in the capital city, which has been a nerve centre of the separatist sentiment and politics for the last over two decades, business remained unaffected in most of the segments. Shops, trade centers, groceries, pharmacies, bakeries, restaurants, petrol filling stations, showrooms and workshops worked without paying attention to the call and traffic---public, private and commercial---operated without any disruption.

Reports said that attendance in most of the private and government offices, banks and educational institutions was normal. However, few lawyers and officials attended J&K High Court and subordinate courts in Valley, mainly due to High Court Bar Association’s support to Geelani’s call. Reports from the countryside said that the shutdown was partial in some townships in South Kashmir and had little impact in over a dozen major townships in North Kashmir. According to these reports, traffic operated as usual and most of the shops and other business centers remained open. There was no shutdown in the central Kashmir districts of Budgam and Ganderbal.

Official, as well as independent reports, said that the only incident of a minor clash between some stone pelters and Police took place in downtown interior of Habbakadal in Srinagar. Police forced the thin group of demonstrators disperse with baton charge. Nobody was reported injured or detained in the clash.

Geelani had called upon the Kashmiris to observe total shutdown against the government’s move of shifting detainees and prisoners to jails outside the state of Jammu and Kashmir. HCBA and Pakistan-based guerrilla conglomerate, United Jihad Council, had supported the call. Geelani’s call came close on the heels of reports that a number of detainees, arrested for their alleged involvement in the JAH chief Maulana Shaukat’s assassination on April 8th, 2011, were being shifting from Srinagar Central Jail to some detention centers outside J&K.

JAH promptly came out with a sharp reaction to Geelani’s call and questioned his act of recognizing the slain cleric’s ‘killers’ as representatives of the Kashmiris’ freedom struggle. According to the JAH statement the other day, it was “surprising” that a veteran separatist leader like Mr Geelani was lending sanctity and recognition to Javed Munshi alias Bil Papa and others arrested by Police for their hand in Maulana Shaukat’s assassination in a bomb blast. Significantly however, almost all over separatist outfits remained non-committal on both, Geelani’s call as well as JAH’s negative reaction to it.

Meanwhile detained hardliner and icon of 2010’s street clashes in Kashmir, Massarat Alam, came back to news when his organisation Muslim League, which happens to be a constituent of Geelani-led faction of the Hurriyat Conference, today distanced itself from the latter’s activities in New Delhi. In a statement, carried by local newspapers today, Muslim League said categorically that it had distanced itself from Geelani’s current activities in New Delhi.

A decade after spurning interaction with Ram Jethmalani-led Kashmir Committee, Geelani has had a series of meetings with the eminent lawyers and BJP-led NDA government’s former Law Minister in the union capital. After calling on Jethmalani, initially with condolences on the death of his daughter, Geelani has unfolded an unexpected political mat. In a significant development, he has also met with Bollywood’s icon of yesteryears and veteran BJP leader, Shatrugan Sinha.

Jethmalani, who called on Geelani in Srinagar few months back, has shown remarkable receptivity to Geelani’s mission of fighting for the release of Kashmir’s separatist detainees. According to reports from New Delhi, Jethmalani has agreed to represent in the Supreme Court of India a number of Kashmir’s separatist prisoners, including Dukhtaraan-e-Millat chief Asiya Andrabi’s husband and Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen supremo, Ashiq Hussain Faktoo alias Mohammad Qasim. Convicted with life imprisonment, Faktoo has completed his doctorate in Islamic Studies in jail. He has been convicted for killing veteran human rights activist late Hriday Nath Wanchoo.

Geelani’s lengthy shutdown calendars froze the Valley during street clashes and demonstrations in 2008 and 2010. However, his success met with anti-climax on both occasions. After months of clashing with Police and armed forces in Amarnath Shrine land allotment row, Kashmiris en masse participated in the Assembly elections of October 20008, followed by the Parliamentary elections or April 2009. Again after months of similar clashes, that left over a hundred civilians dead, Kashmiris registered the highest ever participation of 80% turnout in Panchayat Elections in 2011. Since that watershed, they have not shown much of enthusiasm to Geelani’s calls for shutdown.


No comments: