Srinagar shuts down to commemorate separatist leader’s death

Srinagar, May 21 (Calcutta Tube) Shops were closed as were business establishments as a shutdown called by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chief of the moderate Hurriyat group, to commemorate the 20th death anniversary of his father Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq came into effect here Friday.

On this day in 1990, the senior separatist leader had been killed by unidentified assailants at his residence.

The shutdown was observed in large parts of the city. Shops and other businesses were closed and public transport went off roads in Srinagar city though skeletal private transport and some autorickshaws were operating in the civil lines area.

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq is scheduled to lead a procession of supporters after the Friday prayers, starting from the old city Rajouri Kadal headquarters of Mirwaiz’s Awami Action Committee and ending at the Eidgah martyrs’ graveyard where senior leaders of the moderate Hurriyat group would address a rally.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had told reporters that the government would allow the Mirwaiz to commemorate the death anniversary of his father.

‘We have no problem with the programme announced by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq unless they incite people to violence, creating a law and order situation,’ Abdullah said.

For the last seven days, the moderate Hurriyat group has been holding seminars, blood donation camps and public meetings to commemorate what is known here as the ‘Martyrs’ week’, coinciding with the death anniversary of the slain Mirwaiz and another senior separatist leader, Abdul Gani Lone.

Lone, the chairman of the People’s Conference, also fell to an assassin’s bullets here on May 21, 2002 when he was addressing a separatist rally near the martyrs’ graveyard in the city’s Eidgah area.

Authorities have not put any restrictions on people’s movement in the city Friday.

‘We hope everything passes off peacefully. The Mirwaiz group has been allowed to complete their programme for the day,’ a police officer said.

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