Kashmiri separatists on Monday staged protests against alleged human rights abuse by the police and the armed forces even as parts of the Valley observed a shutdown on World Human Rights Day.
The call for shutdown had been issued by Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Yasin Malik in the backdrop of the death sentence awarded to two JKLF members by a designated court for TADA cases last week. Twenty-two years after their arrest, the two were found guilty of killing a BSF Inspector in 1990. The judgment came at a time when the J&K High Court as well as the Supreme Court decreed that life imprisonment meant imprisonment for the rest of the life of a convict.
Mr. Malik, who, along with a number of former militants, is facing similar charges in different courts, had called upon the Kashmiris to observe shutdown and register their protest to against the sentences awarded to some militants. He alleged that security forces had been committing rights abuses — including kidnapping, murder, torture and rape — with impunity ever since the armed strife began in 1989-90.
Both factions of the Hurriyat Conference, besides many other secessionist groups and guerilla outfits, supported the call for a shutdown.
Reports said a section of commercial transport, many shops and other business establishments did not operate. Government offices and banks conducted their business as usual, though attendance was thin at some district headquarters. Total shutdown was visible only in the business hub of Lalchowk and adjoining markets, in the close vicinity of JKLF chairman’s office and residence at Maisuma. Downtown localities in the summer capital also wore a deserted look.
Reports said there was little impact in four rural district headquarters and a number of towns across the Valley. University of Kashmir as well as J&K State Board of School Education conducted all the scheduled examinations without any disturbance.
Police sources said some groups of youths raised slogans, burnt rubber tyres and indulged in minor clashes with police and paramilitary forces at two or three places, but were chased away.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar, Ashiq Bukhari, told The Hindu that a candle light march led by Yasin Malik wound up peacefully. The rallyists demanded revocation of life imprisonment to all separatist detenus, withdrawal of the J&K Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the Public Safety Act and the Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Act.