Protests erupted in Srinagar on Wednesday after separatist leader Yasin Malik was given life imprisonment in a case related to terrorism and secessionist activities. The J&K government has snapped mobile internet in parts of Srinagar city.
Political leaders in the Union Territory said the life term given to Malik was a setback to peace efforts.
“Life imprisonment given to Yasin Malik is unfortunate and a setback to the efforts for peace,” said M Y Tarigami, the spokesperson of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a coalition of mainstream political parties in J&K. “We are afraid that this will further compound the uncertainties in the region and will fuel more alienation and separatist feelings.”
“The triumphalism being displayed by the BJP and the corporate media is bound to prove counter productive,” he added.
The Hurriyat Conference said Malik is being “punished for his political beliefs”.
“Since 1994, Malik pursued peaceful and democratic means of conflict resolution. A strong votary of dialogue and negotiations between the concerned parties to the Kashmir conflict — that is people of J&K, India and Pakistan — he (Malik) has been relentlessly and selflessly seeking its resolution,” said Hurriyat chairperson Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is under house detention since August 2019.
“He has been convicted in invented cases under draconian laws, when actually he is being punished for his political beliefs on J&K dispute and for representing the sentiment of its people,” he added. “The complete protest strikes being observed by people, despite state coercion and pressure, shows people’s commitment to resistance against force and support of resistance leadership in jail.”
Parts of Srinagar, including city centre Lal Chowk and Malik’s native Maisuma area, were shut down with protests since early Wednesday morning. In the afternoon, too, hundreds took to the streets in Maisuma to protest Malik’s sentencing.
The protests also saw police firing teargas shells, and protesters clashing with police personnel.
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