Shujaat Bukhari

SRINAGAR: Separatist organisations and the Opposition People's Democratic Party have termed as unfortunate the death sentence handed out to two Kashmiris by a Delhi court in the Lajpat Nagar market blast case on Thursday.

The families of Mirza Nasir Hussain and Mohammad Ali Bhat received the news with shock and vowed to go on appeal.

Mirza Nasir Hussain's brother, Mirza Muzaffar, said: “This is a total injustice to us. There was no solid witness and evidence, yet the court convicted my brother and others. I still believe that all the convicts are not guilty, and they have been framed.”

“My son has been awarded the death sentence. My heart is bleeding,” said Haji Sher Ali, father of Mohammad Ali Bhat. “We are an innocent family. My son, now 43, was just 29 years old, when he was framed. In fact, his mother died in February 2000. She could not bear the detention of her son, whom she could not meet till her death.” He said he would challenge the order.

The separatist parties, including the two factions of the Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Geelani, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, the Kashmir Bar Association and Anjuman-e-Sharaee Shian have said the judgment has gone against justice.

The Mirwaiz has called for a strike across the valley on Friday. It has been backed by all other groups.

In a statement, he said the Kashmiris were declared offenders in such cases even before the judicial process was complete.

“It has been a practice to nail Kashmiris like this, though there is no concrete evidence,” Mr. Geelani said.

In a statement, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said such tragedies flowed out of inability of India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute, which she termed as a political problem.

The Lajpat Nagar blast case was not the first in the long story of bloodshed associated with the issue, but treating it technically and legally would only add to the complexities that stood in the way of a solution.

Ms. Mehbooba said it was encouraging to note that there was a nationwide debate on the approach to the Moist extremism. But the Kashmir problem was being addressed only through force. Kashmir too needed a more companionate and restrained response from the State to prevent recurrence of violence.