“Father loved homeland”: Kashmir parts shutdown on Afzal Guru’s death anniversary

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Parts of Kashmir valley observed a shutdown on Tuesday to commemorate the eighth death anniversary of Afzal Guru, who was hanged in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail on this day in 2013.

The market was shut in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk and downtown areas as thin traffic continued to ply on the roads. Other parts of the valley also observed partial shutdown, including Guru’s native district of Sopore in north Kashmir.

During these years, Guru’s family has been remembering him by offering fateha – prayers for the dead and by reciting the Quran — the holy book of Muslims, said his son, Ghalib Guru.

The local villagers, relatives, and friends of Guru visited his home to pay their respects and condolences. Speaking to The Kashmir Walla over phone, Ghalib said, “My father was a Kashmiri who had love for his homeland and the people. People all over the valley respect his sacrifice and for them, my father is a martyr – a person who fought for basic rights, spoke the truth against the regime.”

Ghalib was 11-year-old when his father was hanged in Tihar jail and buried near Maqbool Bhat – another Kashmiri leader hanged on 11 February 1984 in the jail and buried in the same compound. Guru was convicted by the Supreme Court for his involvement in the 2001 Parliament Attack. His body was never returned to his family. An empty grave was dug in a graveyard in Srinagar’s Eidgah for his body – next to the empty grave of Bhat, whose body was also not returned to his family.

In a statement, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) had urged people to observe a complete shutdown on 9 and 11 February, which is Bhat’s death anniversary, saying that these two have become the sign of “sacrifice”.

“We have appealed to the government [to return the body] but they haven’t responded yet,” said Ghalib. “It was my father’s wish to be buried next to Maqbool sahab’s grave.”

A local sarpanch in Sopore district, affiliated with Apni Party, Farooq Rather told The Kashmir Walla, “There is a complete shutdown in Sopore, only a little traffic movement is there.”

Since his hanging, Kashmir has observed a shutdown on this day. However, on his eighth death anniversary, the situation on the ground has changed, said a 24-year-old student, who is a resident of Shopian in south Kashmir and requested to remain anonymous. “This place [south Kashmir] is volatile but detentions and tortures have caused fear among the people,” he said.

Last year, the Jammu and Kashmir administration had snapped the internet services across the region as a precautionary measure on 9 February. But this year the internet was not snapped.

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