SRINAGAR: Normal life in Kashmir was disrupted by the strike called by separatist groups to protest the arrest of JNU students and former Delhi University Professor S A R Geelani on sedition charges for making pro-Afzal Guru statements in the national capital.
Shops, business establishments and petrol pumps in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley were shut while public transport went off the roads. As it was the fourth Saturday of the month, attendance in government offices was thin and banks were, in any case, closed.
Authorities deployed police and paramilitary CRPF men in strength in sensitive areas of Srinagar and other towns of the Valley to prevent youth staging anti-India demonstrations.
Train services in the Valley remained suspended, and Kashmir University postponed Post Graduate entrance examinations scheduled for the day.
Hurriyat Conference’s hardline faction led by Syed Ali Geelani and pro-independence JKLF had called for the shutdown to protest against the arrest of JNU students leader Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and others and SAR Geelani.
Three JNU students were arrested over an event commemorating 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s third death anniversary on February 9.
Ahead of the shutdown, authorities had detained all top senior separatist leaders and activists in the Valley.
JKLF chairman Yasin Malik, who was placed under house arrest, urged civil society and international human rights organisations to intervene and save JNU students and SAR Geelani from the wrath of Indian “oppressive behavior”.
He said former Home minister P Chidambaram, whose party hanged Afzal Guru, has confessed that Guru was not given a fair trial and his case was not decided rightly. “However, when JNU students, SAR Geelani, and others spoke about it, they were labeled traitors, a media trial was launched against them and they were put behind bars.”