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Valley shutdown for Afzal, a year on

Srinagar, Feb. 9: Protests broke out in Kashmir today on the first anniversary of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s hanging amid a shutdown and curfew-like curbs.

A march to the heart of Srinagar was stopped midway. Separatists have called a three-day shutdown till Tuesday, the 30th death anniversary of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) founder Maqbool Bhat. Both Afzal and Bhat were hanged in Delhi’s Tihar jail.

The authorities had detained dozens and placed under house arrest several separatist leaders who had vowed protests today. Internet services were snapped to check rumours.

Stone-throwing youths clashed with security forces at several places. They raised slogans and demanded the mortal remains of Afzal and Bhat, both buried in Tihar.

A police spokesperson described the incidents as “minor”. This contrasted with the massive backlash and days of curfew after Afzal was hanged last year.

JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik tried to lead a march in Srinagar, accompanied by supporters wearing black scarves and carrying banners. But Malik was stopped and taken into custody.

He accused the Centre of “breaking all records in tyranny and oppression” by executing Afzal and Bhat without giving their families a chance to meet them and denying the two proper burials.