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Separatists smear walls, each other in Srinagar

A grafitti of JKLF founder Mohammad Maqbool Bhat near the GeneralPost Office in Srinagar.—Photo: Nissar Ahmad  

A new wave of pro-separatism graffiti on the city walls is directed more inwards rather than at the state as a subtle turf war plays out among the separatists.

In a departure from the past, pro-Islamic State and pro-Taliban graffiti are fast being replaced by pro-Hizbul Mujahideen and pro-JKLF (Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front) graffiti.

While the city was busy celebrating Id-ul-Adha last week, fresh graffiti, painted with spray guns on the lines of Bansky street art, saw new slogans and faces painted on the walls, particularly in the downtown Nowhatta area and uptown Bund area with a white lone wall facing the Jhelum river.

In the old city, the slogans declare “We are all Burhan”, while in the Bund area, it’s the face of hanged JKLF founder, Maqbool Bhat, that is mushrooming.

Burhan, 22, son of a school headmaster in the Tral area of Pulwama district and militant commander of the Hizb based in south Kashmir, claims to hold sway over the youth. Burhan’s videos made their way to social networking sites recently and his banners dotted the city last month. Graffiti of Maqbool Bhat was spotted just metres from the residence of a Minister, a senior Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader, in Lal Chowk.

Sources said the supporters of Hurriyat leaders like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chief Yasin Malik have been directed by their parties to distance themselves from the IS and pro-Taliban sloganeering. Separatists groups, including Hizbul Mujahideen, were threatened by the unfurling of flags of the IS and Taliban.

Of late, Mr. Geelani was forced to describe the IS as an “un-Islamic group” to keep the flock from veering towards the most-hard-line pan-Islamic group.

Mr. Geelani’s statement was followed by Pakistan-occupied Kashmir-based Hizb chief Syed Salahuddin’s remark: “The IS has no role in Kashmir.”

“These are the same people who would unfurl IS flags. It seems since there were no takers of IS flags, they have switched to graffiti on Burhan, who is emerging as a trend,” Inspector-General of Police, Kashmir Range, Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani, told The Hindu.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2020 5:55:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/separatists-smear-walls-each-other-in-srinagar/article7708082.ece

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