SRINAGAR: For seasoned veterans of the security forces in Kashmir Valley, martyrdom anniversaries are a particularly fraught time. Protests peak at this time. February 9 and February 11 are two such days.
The latter is the death anniversary of JKLF founder Maqbool Butt. He was hanged in the Tihar jail in 1984 after he was found guilty of killing an Indian intelligence official in England. Despite the many years that have passed, there is a complete shutdown and violence on his death anniversary every year.
February 9 is the death anniversary of Muhammed Afzal Guru, who was hanged for his role in the Parliament attack.
Now, with normal life paralysed for the last two and a half months over the July 8 killing of Hizb-ul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, forces are apprehensive that another date has been added to the calendar. As the date falls in the midst of the Amarnath yatra season, the Hindu pilgrimage may become further tense every year.
After Wani’s killing, the yatra this year was severely disrupted and many yatris found themselves caught in the violence. Pilgrims had to be taken out of Srinagar at night, with convoys of CRPF escorting them all the way to Jammu. "Now we will have to chalk out new strategies to ensure that the yatra is not affected,’’ a police official said.
CRPF IG Atul Kanwar said, “Yes, it is indeed a problem. We will keep our eyes and ears open and ensure that Amarnath yatra is never disrupted.”
However, a lower-rung CRPF official said that already Amarnath yatra is a big challenge for the forces and now with Wani’s death anniversary, it will get tougher.