Shujaat Bukhari

Warns of mass movement if there is no change in situation within a month and a half

JAMMU: Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik on Tuesday began a three-day hunger strike in Srinagar as part of a four-day campaign against human rights violations in Kashmir through killing of innocent civilians in fake encounters.

Mr. Malik had called for a general strike call and it evoked near total response in Srinagar and other major towns, affecting life across the valley.

Shops and other commercial establishments remained closed for the day and there was minimal attendance in Government offices.

Vehicles were off the road for most part of the day and a dozen people were injured in clashes with police.

Joined by parents of youth who disappeared over the past 17 years besides human rights activists and trade union leaders, Mr. Malik sat in a tent on the road outside his office in Maisuma area.

Mr. Malik threatened to start a mass movement if the situation did not witness a change within one-and- half months. "Peace process and human rights violations cannot go together," he said.

Claiming that the hunger strike was just a reminder to the Prime Minister to take some stern measures in curbing human rights violations, he said: "I will ask people to take to streets if the state of human rights continues to be the same."

Joining Mr. Malik was the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons' president, Parveena Ahanger. Ms. Ahanger said that it was for the first time that an initiative had been taken to trace five missing persons and the results were open.

"It is the security forces that are responsible for all such disappearances," she said adding that the process was on since 1990, when insurgency began in the State.

Several arrested

Police arrested several persons who were protesting against killings in fake encounters. Hundreds of protesters poured in to Lal Chowk from parts of the city and raised pro-freedom and anti-SOG slogans.

They also demanded punishment to the security personnel involved in fake encounters. "We have the right to know what happened to our sons and brothers," said a protester.

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