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Friday, June 29, 2012

On eve of Sadar Mufti’s Khanyar Chalo, MUAS serves ultimatum on Govt

Shutdown, undeclared curfew in downtown Srinagar continues on 4th day running; ‘stone pelters’ detained

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 28: Amid varied reactions to devastation of the revered Dastgeer Saheb shrine, a conglomerate of Muslim clergymen today served an ultimatum on Omar Abdullah’s government insisting that the investigation be completed within ten days. Even as curfew is likely to be enforced in parts of the capital city on the day of Sadar Mufti Mohammad Bashiruddin’s call of a mass march to Khanyar on Friday, shutdown in rest of the Valley and undeclared curfew in downtown Srinagar continued on the fourth consecutive day today.

With the Police failing to explain failure of its security and surveillance system on Monday last--- and also failing to achieve breakthrough in its investigation---a Kashmiri clergymen’s umbrella, Muttahida Ullema-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat-wa-al-Jamaat (MUAS), today asked the state government to complete its probe within the next 10 days. While serving ultimatum on Police, MUAS insisted that representatives of the clerics’ alliance be also associated with the investigation.

In a press release this evening, MUAS spokesman urged the Kashmiri Muslims to continue their mourning and protest against burning of the shrine in a blaze on June 25th for another week. He asked all residents of Valley to install black badges on their arms besides black flags on their houses, offices, vehicles, schools, colleges and universities as a mark of morning and protest for the next seven days. He said that the appeal to the “common Muslim masses in general and those believing in saints and shrines in particular” was being made on behalf of MUAS patron, Maulana Ghulam Mohiuddin Naqeeb, and Chairman, Maulana Ghulam Rasool Haami. He also called for total blackout in Valley from 8.00 pm to 9.00 pm every day during the weeklong protest.

Over 300-year-old shrine, containing relic of the 11th century Iranian-Iraqi Sufi saint Sheikh Sayyid Abdul Qadir Jeelani (Dastgeer Saheb) besides some rare manuscripts of holy Quran, perished in a mysterious fire on Monday last. However, the relic and all other Tabarukaat were claimed to have been saved and kept in safe custody.

The MUAS spokesman implored the people of Kashmir to maintain peace all through the week-long protest. “There should be no violent reaction and the elements of nefarious intention and designs should not be permitted to hijack the initiative”, he added. He expressed disappointment over the Government’s continued silence to the MUAS demand that its representatives be associated with the investigation. He urged the MUAS units to organize peaceful protest sittings at all the district and Tehsil headquarters, as also at all the shrines in Kashmir on Friday. According to him, MUAS would tomorrow organize the largest of its protest gatherings at Dastgeer Saheb’s shrines at Khanyar and Sarai Bala besides at the shrine of Batmaloo.

In a significant development, MUAS advised custodian of all the shrines in Valley to retain the relics in their own safe custody as, according to him, apprehensions of destroying other shrines too were evident.

The call from MUAS today came on the eve of Saddar Mufti Mohammad Bashiruddin’s call of ‘Khanyar Chalo’. The grand Mufti has asked the Kashmiri Muslims to stage a march en masse to the devastated shrine on Friday. However, authorities are understood to have decided to enforce curfew in over half of downtown Srinagar to prevent people from participating in a protest rally at Khanyar.

Even today, on the fourth consecutive day, undeclared curfew remains in force in the densely populated downtown Srinagar from Munnawarabad Nawpora to Zadibal and Nallah Maar. Columns of Police and CRPF did not allow common civilian movement, asking residents to remain indoors. No reports of any major violation or violence came in from any part of the capital city or elsewhere in the Valley. Informed sources said that a modest Police crackdown against the potential troublemakers was underway since Monday last itself as over 30 of the youngsters were believed to have been picked up and detained for questioning.

Sources revealed that with in coordination with two federal Ministries, the state authorities were blocking “certain offending pages and links” on social media--- particularly Facebook, Twitter, Google and Yahoo---in an attempt to prevent rumour mongers and mischief makers to further destabilize the atmosphere of 20-month-long peace

Today’s reports said that the shutdown on Saddar Mufti’s call was total or near-total in the Valley as most of the government offices, banks and petrol banks remained closed on the fourth consecutive day today. Reports said that none of the prominent separatist leaders was permitted to make any movement out of residence. However, a number of the Congress leaders, government officials, besides Governor N N Vohra, today visited Khanyar to take stock of the circumstances that led to devastation of the shrine last week.


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