Back on the burner

separatist camp. Shazia Khan reports. Nearly 14 years after blasts rocked the busy Lajpat Nagar marketplace in New Delhi, leaving 13 people dead and several injured, a Delhi court awarded death sentence to three convicts – Mohammad Ali Bhatt and Mirza Nissar Hussain, both residents of Kashmir, and Mohammad Naushad, a resident of Delhi. Two other accused were acquitted while fourth convict, Farida Dar, was sentenced to four years in jail, but released as she had already spent the time in jail.
The sentence stirred immediate reaction in Kashmir. Both faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, and JKLF called for shutdowns and demonstrations.
Amid a shutdown on April 24, dozens of agitated supporters of Hurriyat Conference, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq marched towards city centre in Srinagar. Police detained the activists and placed Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and other Hurriyat leaders under house arrest in Srinagar.
Similarly, hundreds of JKLF activists, led by its chairman Yasin Malik, also took to the streets when police stopped them.
Malik said majority of people in Kashmir want the death sentence to be revoked.
Malik also sat on a one-day token hunger strike along with his party activists to protest the death sentence.
He said that they would also organize a sit-in at Delhi against the judgment. “Hundreds of Maqbool Bhat’s were born with the hanging of Bhat. If the sentence against convicts is not revoked, you should prepare for another revolution,” Malik warned.
Killing of a villager in Shopain by army stirred more protests.
In between some unity moves among separatists were also made.
Hurriyat (M) chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq talked of a common protest programme where he tried to bring all pro freedom leaders including Hurriyat (G) chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani on one podium to protest against human rights abuses. However, Geelani dumped the proposal of a common protest programme, but assured no conflict of programme.
Mirwaiz said they have initiated a process of talking to every pro-freedom group and the process has already been set in motion. “Our delegation met Muhammad Yasin Malik sahib, Jamat-e-Islami and in coming days they will meet others. It isn’t only with Geelani sahib, but we want consensus with all pro-freedom parties.”
However, in response of common protest programme, Geelani says, “Our party has assured them that there will be no confrontation with their programmes from our side. But we will pursue our programs separately,” he said.
Announcing a separate protest programme against “forced occupation of Valley”, Hurriyat (G) chairman called for a march to UN Military Observers Group (UNMOG) on Friday. However, police placed Geelani under house arrest a day ahead of the programme.
Mirwaiz announced a programme to visit Islamabad town on Friday. He was also placed under house arrest.

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