Azadi camp’s march foiled; curfew in old city keeps people indoors; Sopore, Handwara martyrs remembered
Iqbal Kirmani /Mushtaq Ahmad
Srinagar/baramulla: Hours after detaining the resistance leaders in their own homes or police stations and imposing curfew in old city, chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said his four months’ rule has “closed doors of prisons and made life easier for the people”.
“In four months of our governance, we have closed doors of prisons, provided electricity to people and made lives easy for people,” said Mufti who paid floral tributes to July 13, 1931 martyrs at Martyrs Graveyard in old city.
Mufti’s claim goes contrary to the arrest of dozens of youth on charges of stone throwing in old Srinagar and urban areas of Baramulla and Anantnag districts.
Mufti said the martyrs “laid the edifice for democracy and human dignity of people” and the real homage one can pay them is by creating an “equitable environment for everyone to grow and gel together in a democratic atmosphere”.
Invoking his old slogan ‘Na Bandook Se Na Goli Se, Baat Banegi Boli Say’ (Talks, not guns and bullets, will resolve things), Mufti said the peace in the region can come only through a sustained and meaningful dialogue between India and Pakistan.
Mufti asked people to safeguard Jammu and Kashmir’s “special status” granted by the Indian constitution. He hailed the people and the leadership of the state for “rising above religious considerations and acceding to India” during 1947 because “India was an embodiment of secularism”.
Taking a dig at Mufti’s call for dialogue, former chief minister Omar Abdullah said, “People with whom dialogue is to be held have been put behind the bars by this government.”
“Rather than addressing issues faced by people like removal of AFSPA this government is trying to bribe people through economic packages but people of Kashmir will not bow before their tactics,” claimed Omar.
The government had imposed “restrictions”, a euphemism for curfew, in a vast area of the city that fall in the jurisdiction of seven police stations.
Police did not allow prominent resistance leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Mohammad Yasin Malik and several others to move out of their homes, while a few leaders who attempted to march towards Martyrs Graveyard were detained by the police.
Abdul Ahad Parra, Mohammad Khazir Ganai, Imtiyaz Hyder, Mohammad Ramazan Khan and Mohammad Yaseen Attai of Muslim League were detained at Shaheed Gunj, while Hurriyat (M) leaders Javaid Mir and Hilal War were detained at Maisuma while attempting to march to the old city.
The pro-freedom leaders of various groups had announced that they will commemorate the day together. They had planned that people will gather at Jamia Masjid and then march peacefully towards the Martyrs Graveyard.
Homage was paid to the Sopore martyrs who had fallen to the bullets of Dogra Maharaja’s army on July 13, 1931.
Tehreek-e-Hurriyat executive member Mohammad Sadiq Adil led a rally to the Sopore Martyrs Graveyard and, after paying tributes to the martyrs, marched to Main Chowk, shouting pro-freedom slogans.
Hurriyat leader Gulam Nabi Waseem led a similar rally which assembled at Handwara Martyrs Graveyard, where martyrs killed by Dogra army on July 13, 1931 are buried.
All roads leading to the Martyrs Graveyard were guarded by paramilitary troops wearing protective gears, while major entry points to old city had been blocked with concertina wires.
From Munawarabad to Khanyar Chowk, Congress flags and buntings hung from wires and poles, while PDP and NC flags dotted the area from Khanyar to the Naqashband Sahib shrine.
The police allowed only the workers of these parties and journalists to move in these areas but only after intensive questioning and identity check.
A majority of the people whom the pro-India leaders addressed were party workers who had been bussed to the graveyard. The government forces let them after body searches.