Despite the imposition of curfew, the shutting down of local cable TV operations and SMSs, at least 50 persons including a Superintendent of Police were injured in different incidents of violence across the Kashmir valley triggered by Saturday morning’s execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Shiv Murari Sahai called up all territorial DIGs, SSPs and SPs from 2.30 a.m. to 3.00 a.m. and advised them to enforce curfew across the valley, senior officials told The Hindu . The sources said that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who was informed by Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Friday night of the decision to hang Afzal, asked the police to enforce curfew but exercise “maximum possible restraint.”
While the heads of both factions of the separatist Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, were in New Delhi and the JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik in Pakistan, several of their colleagues were placed under house arrest. Soon a heavy security bandobust was in place all over the valley.
In Srinagar, the only organized demonstration was witnessed at Maisuma where an activist, Hilal War was detained for violating curfew. Reports said that an independent MLA, Engineer Rasheed, led a demonstration of nearly one thousand people in the Handwara area. The demonstrators seemed to be heading towards Sopore. The police on duty intercepted and dispersed the procession with force. Preliminary reports said that the MLA was detained.
Local reports confirmed by police officials said that nearly 5,000 people gathered in the forenoon at Jageer, Afzal Guru’s residential village in Sopore. They participated in a ghaibana namaz-e-janazah and demanded the former JKLF militant’s body for funeral rites. Guru’s wife, Tabassum, who works at a relative’s nursing home at Sopore and was on duty till 8.00 am, also reached there along with her teenage son Ghalib. Guru’s family said neither his wife nor any other family member was informed by the authorities about his impending execution or the actual hanging.
Police officials described the situation in the valley as ‘tense but under control’ as no fatal casualty or a major demonstration or clash took place anywhere. However, the calm was mainly attributed to the strict enforcement of curfew and other measures including the freezing of SMSs and restricting access to the social media. In all, thin crowds blocked the roads and clashed with police and paramilitary forces at twenty to thirty places in the valley.
As the crowd marching towards Sopore approached Mazbug bridge, the troops there directed it to disperse. A violent clash ensured, leading to firing by the Army. Six demonstrators sustained injuries, one critically. He was later rushed to a Srinagar hospital for treatment.
Later, troops opened fire in Baramulla when their vehicle got stuck on the road and a recovery van was on its way to the spot.