Says Life Terms To Kashmiris “Fresh Aggression,” Flays Indian Civil Society Silence
Observer News Service
SRINAGAR: Amid heavy cane charges and tear gas shelling on a JKLF procession, the police on Friday took Muhammad Yasin Malik into custody along with several of his associates during central Srinagar demonstrations against life sentences to two Kashmiris.
The use of force on the procession left several persons injured in the severe ensuing clashes, with Malik threatening to launch a jail bharo agitation if “the trend of awarding life sentences to Kashmiris” was not halted and detainees released.
Terming the court decisions as “judicial violence” and “a fresh policy of aggression by India” which, according to him, would push Kashmiris “back to the nineties,” Malik also came down heavily on the India civil society, saying that their silence on the issue risked betraying them as tools of the government employed merely as “fire-fighters to douse the Valley’s raging agitations.”
The JKLF chief, flanked by leaders from other groups, had been leading a procession from the Maisuma quarter of the city centre to protest against a TADA court’s life imprisonment to party cadres Sheikh Nazir Ahmad of Batmalu and Shaukat Ahmad Khan in a 23-year-old case.
The forces went into action shortly after the marchers, heading for the Budshah Chowk with placards and banners, were blocked by a heavy contingent of the police and paramilitary troopers and changed direction to Madina Chowk to make it to Lal Chowk.
Rushing in with armoured personnel carriers, the forces fell upon the procession with cane charges and tear gas, beating many with rifle butts.
According to the JKLF, the assault left several protestors, including district organiser Ghulam Rasool Hazari, Muhammad Ayub Naik, and Kulgam district president Abd-us-Sattar, injured.
Malik was taken into custody along with his deputy Basheer Ahmad Bhat, Javed Ahmad Mir, Muslim Conference chief Shabir Ahmad Dar, Mir Sirajuddin, Syed Nisar Ahmad Jeelani, Professor Javed and several others.
With nearby markets closing down and traffic coming to halt in the chaos, groups of youth took to the streets in anger, pelting stones at the police and the paramilitary forces.
Clashes went on for several hours as the forces retaliated with cane-charges and tear gas.
Earlier, addressing protestors before the march, Malik had described the court sentences as “a fresh policy of aggression launched by India” under which “over a score of Kashmiri leaders had been handed down life terms and death penalties in the past two years.”
“We want to register our protest against these sentences,” the JKLF chief told protestors and the media.
Describing the punishments awarded to Sheikh and Khan as “judicial violence,” Malik asked why such court decisions had begun to be issued after keeping the cases pending for over two decades and the accused in jail for years on end.
“This new state trend of life terms and death penalties against Kashmiri detainees is pregnant with meaning,” he said.
Naming a number of separatists in jail, including Muhammad Afzal Guru and Dr. Muhammad Qasim Faktoo, Malik said that the demonstration was to show solidarity with Kashmiri detainees.
“What does the government of India want to achieve by using the courts again to issue sentences under the pretext of cases after 22 long years?” he asked.
“By replying to their peaceful approach with judicial violence, does the Indian government want to send Kashmiris the message that anyone who raises the voice of truth here will be punished,” he said.
“Does the government want to tell us that waging (or adopting) a peaceful struggle signifies weakness or defeat,” he said.
“Can the government of India suppress our freedom struggle with this judicial violence,” he said.
“Had that been the case, thousands of Maqbool Bhats would not have sprung up after the JKLF founder was executed in 1984,” he said.
“This trend of death penalties and life imprisonments is gathering momentum. We will launch a jail bharo movement if it is not halted forthwith,” he said.
“When the freedom struggle in Kashmir intensifies, the Indian civil society and the diplomatic community stay literally camped in the valley, but when it subsides, they are nowhere to be seen,” he said.
“Is fire-fighting all they have to do?” he said.
“If the Indian civil society does not break its silence forthwith, Kashmiris will be within their rights to believe that it is being used merely as a tool of the agencies and the Indian government, and its task is to act as fire-fighters to quell raging agitations,” he said.
Malik warned India that it would achieve nothing by trying to suppress the peaceful movement of Kashmiris with judicial violence.
“Through these measures, Indian rulers are trying to push the adherents of a peaceful movement back to the situation of the nineties, which is will do no one any good,” he said, expressing gratitude to Syed Ali Shah Geelani and other leaders for their positive approach and support to today’s stir.