|A child plays with a security personnel in Srinagar on the second day of the strike called by separatist
groups demanding the body of Afzal Guru. (PTI)
Srinagar, Feb. 21: The Omar Abdullah government has imposed a fresh clampdown on separatists after indications that several groups intend to keep Kashmir on the boil over Afzal Guru’s execution.
The government today prevented VHP leader Praveen Togadia from entering the state over worries that he may stir trouble with provocative speeches. He was forced to board a flight back from Jammu airport soon after he landed, triggering protests by his supporters.
Moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and several other leaders were placed under house arrest to prevent them from holding a joint session of the executive and general council of the conglomerate in Srinagar, and later travelling to Afzal’s village Seer Jagir in Sopore.
The Mirwaiz was put under house arrest immediately after his arrival from New Delhi. He was in the capital when Parliament attack convict Afzal was executed and was placed under house arrest there as well. The restrictions were lifted yesterday, allowing him to return to the Valley.
The moderate separatist, who had called for broader unity among the separatists to force New Delhi to return Afzal’s body and had planned the joint session to chalk out a course of action, was debarred from addressing a news conference.
Other leaders from the moderate camp placed under house arrest, some of them since yesterday, include Professor Abdul Gani Bhat and Agha Syed Hassan.
The government had arrested most senior separatist leaders, including Shabir Shah, after Afzal’s hanging on February 9 but some of them were released following improvement in the situation on Sunday, when a nine-day shutdown called by the separatists ended.
Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani, however, issued a fresh protest calendar on Monday in which he asked people to observe shutdown on Wednesday and Thursday, prompting the fresh clampdown.
Geelani is likely to issue another calendar tomorrow. Normal life has remained paralysed in the Valley for the past two days and there won’t be any respite tomorrow because of a call for shutdown by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, which is not part of the Hurriyat.
The government today imposed curfew in some parts of the city after separatist groups called for protests and a strike tomorrow to press for the return of Afzal’s body.
Four persons, including a divisional forest officer, were injured when miscreants threw stones at private and government vehicles in south Kashmir’s Kulgam town today.