Shutdown in India-administered Kashmir marks Afzal Guru’s death anniversary

Hundreds of armed police and paramilitary soldiers in riot gear patrolled as most residents stayed indoors in the disputed region’s Srinagar city. Unlike in the past, no anti-India groups, had called for this year’s strike.

Businesses and shops have closed in many parts of India-administered Kashmir  to mark the eighth anniversary of the secret execution of a Kashmiri man in New Delhi.

Unlike in the past, no anti-India groups, which have long demanded the region’s independence or its merger with neighbouring Pakistan, called for Tuesday’s strike.

Hundreds of armed police and paramilitary soldiers in riot gear patrolled as most residents stayed indoors in the disputed region’s main city of Srinagar. 

Indian forces at some checkpoints frisked pedestrians and searched private cars, while public transport was largely off the roads.

Majority of Kashmiris were incensed when in 2013, Mohammad Afzal Guru was secretly hanged in a New Delhi jail on charges of being involved in a 2001 parliament attack that killed 14 people, including five gunmen. 

India had blamed the attack on the parliament of the world’s largest democracy on militants backed by Pakistan.

Islamabad denied any involvement and condemned the attack but tension rose sharply and brought the nuclear-armed rivals dangerously close to their fourth war. Nearly a million soldiers were mobilised on both sides of the border and fears of war only dissipated months later, in June 2002.

Guru was convicted of helping organise arms for the gunmen who made the attack and a place for them to stay. He always maintained his innocence and said that he was not given a fair trial.

‘Collective conscience’

India’s supreme court while handing out Guru’s death sentence had observed that “As is the case with most conspiracies, there is and could be no evidence amounting to criminal conspiracy.” 

It added, “The incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, had shaken the entire nation, and the collective conscience of society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender.”

Most people in Kashmir and several Indian human rights activists believe Guru was not given a fair trial. His covert execution and secret burial in India’s Tihar jail led to days of deadly anti-India protests in the Muslim-majority region, where anti-India sentiment runs deep. 

Many people in the Kashmir Valley demand that Guru’s remains, currently buried within the jail compound, be returned to the region for burial.

India and Pakistan each claim the divided Himalayan territory of Kashmir in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989.

Most Kashmiris support the rebels’ demand that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country, while also participating in civilian street demonstrations against Indian control.

About 100,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian crackdown.

Source https://www.trtworld.com/life/shutdown-in-india-administered-kashmir-marks-afzal-guru-s-death-anniversary-44024

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