Kashmir journalists questioned about JKLF statement

The Asian Age.  | Yusuf Jameel

India, All India

Valley observes shutdown on Afzal Guru anniversary

Kashmir observed a shutdown on the occasion of the anniversary of Afzal Guru's death. (AFP)

Srinagar: A partial to complete shutdown was observed amid renewed tensions in the Kashmir Valley on Sunday to commemorate the seventh death anniversary of Parliament attack convict Muhammad Afzal Guru.

Guru, a resident of Doabgah suburb of Kashmir’s northwestern town of Sopore, was hanged in Delhi’s Tihar jail on February 9, 2013.  

While shops and other businesses including the weekly flea market, popularly known as ‘Sunday Market’, in the summer capital Srinagar remained closed, public transport services were badly affected here and elsewhere in the Valley in response to a strike call issued by the Mirwaiz Umar-led faction of the separatist Hurriyat Conference and the outlawed Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).

However, private cars and other vehicles and autorickshaws plied as usual across the Valley. Also, shops, mainly groceries and pharmacies, were open at places, reports said.

Security across the Valley was beefed up further on the eve of the Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat anniversaries. The authorities said the day passed off peacefully, and claimed that the strike calls were largely ignored by the people. Director-general of police Dilbag Singh had earlier said that the police and other security forces were fully prepared to foil any attempt at disturbing peace.

It was for the first time since August 5 last year–when Jammu & Kashmir was stripped of its special status and split up into two Union Territories – that separatist organizations issued strike calls. 

Police on Saturday registered a case against the JKLF for issuing a strike call for February 9 and 11 to commemorate the hangings of Guru and Muhammad Maqbool Bhat, a co-founder of the pro-independence Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Front (JKNLF) who was also hanged in the Tihar jail in 1984 on charges of murdering an intelligence official Amar Chand during his “pursuits” in the Valley way back in the 1960s.

The officials said a case under Sections 10, 11 and 13 of the Unlawful Activities Act has been registered at Srinagar’s Kothi Bagh police station against the JKLF. The pro-independence JKLF was in March last year declared as “an unlawful association” under Section 3(1) o the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 by the Home Ministry, saying it is “actively engaged in inciting secessionism and illegal funnelling of funds for fomenting terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir”.

Two Srinagar-based journalists-- Naseer A. Ganai of Outlook magazine and Haroon Nabi of local news agency Current News Service who had written on the JKLF statement on social media sites were Saturday called in by the police for questioning.

However, both of them were let go after a delegation of journalists met inspector-general of police (Kashmir range) Vijay Kumar. The police officer, however, said the two journalists had not been detained as such but only called in to inquire from them about the JKLF statement and their putting it on social platforms.

Kumar pointed out that the JKLF is a proscribed organization and that anything that instigates people to create a law and order problem or disturb life and peace won’t be allowed to be publicised.

Police said Ganai had tweeted the JKLF statement while Nabi had sent it to scores of people on WhatsApp. They were asked to report at the headquarters of J&K police’s counterinsurgency Special Operations Group (SOG) here and kept there for a few hours during which they were asked questions about the statement and their “publicising” it by putting it on social media platforms.