Sopore: On the fifth anniversary of the secretive hanging of Afzal Guroo inside New Delhi’s Tihar Jail, Sopore woke up to a heavy battery of armed personnel, complete with military vehicles and battle gear, standing at every nook and cranny leading to the native village of the late Afzal Guroo.
People old and young who tried to pay a visit to the house of Afzal for condolence were not allowed to do so by curfew-like restrictions, but many took different routes like orchards, boats and through other villages to reach the house.
Several roads in Sopore town were blocked with concertina wires and barricades erected by government foces.
Guroo’s better half, Tabassum, who now lives in Baramulla, said she had come to her in-laws’ house a couple of days ago to attend to the anniversary of her husband.
“I came to Seer Jagir yesterday with my son Ghalib. A lot of people visit us and offer condolences to my late husband on this day,” Tabassum told Kashmir Reader.
At Afzal’s home in Jagir, Sopore, a ritual of remembrance was observed once again as on every year. For the fifth time in as many years, Afzal’s family invited some Imams to read the Quran, in which the young Ghalib read along, and food and Kashmiri tea (nun chai) was served through the whole day to numerous visitors who came to pay their tributes.
Afzal’s hanging, “to satisfy the collective conscience” according to the Supreme Court, was done without informing his family members. His body was buried inside Tihar Jail instead of being given to his family.
Tabassum said she expected the “world’s biggest democracy” to at least return to her the diary in which her husband wrote about his time in jail, his copy of the Quran, his radio, his specs, his clothes and his books, if not his mortal remains.
“Forget about returning of mortal remains of my martyr husband, they did not allow us to commemorate his martyrdom anniversary peacefully,” she said. She also alleged that the banners and posters of her martyred husband that had been pasted in Seer-Jagir and across Sopore town were torn apart by government forces and several visitors were not allowed to reach her house.
Ghalib, the only son of Afzal, said his father’s death anniversary was a moment of honour for him. “The death anniversary of my late father has become a special day for me. It is a moment where I can remember my father and also get to know how my father is remembered by others in Kashmir,” Ghalib said.
A complete shutdown and curfew-like restrictions in Sopore marked the fifth death anniversary of Afzal Guroo in Sopore, especially the area leading to his native vilage. Dozens of Hurriyat activists, however, reached the village and paid tributes to Afzal Guroo.
Following the strike call given by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), a complete strike was observed in most parts of north Kashmir including Baramulla, Sopore, Rafiabad, Pattan, Sangrama, Rafiabad, Narvaw, Handwara, Langate, Kupwara, Kralpora, Trehgam, Lolab, and native village of Afzal Guroo at Jagir Sopore.
All shops and business establishments, the Fruit Mandi Sopore, tuition centres, petrol pumps, private and most of the government offices remained closed while public transport was completely off the roads.
People across north Kashmir offered special prayers at local mosques for Afzal Guroo.
A protest rally was also taken out in Sopore n which Hurriyat activists shouted anti-India, pro-freedom and pro-Pakistan slogans.
After the Friday congregation prayers, clashes erupted in old town Sopore where scores of youths hit the roads and started hurling stones on the deployed forces, who lobbed tear gas shells to disperse them.
Surprisingly, internet services were not suspended in north Kashmir despite the strike call by the JRL.