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Strike or no strike: In Mirwaiz name, 2 statements with opposite May 21 plans

The Hurriyat observes May 21 as martyr’s day in memory of Mirwaiz Mohammed Farooq and Abdul Ghani Lone, who were killed by militants on the same day, 12 years apart.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi |
Updated: May 20, 2021 5:24:24 am
Kashmiri leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq (AP Photo)

DAYS AFTER Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq issued a statement, saying “martyr’s day” programmes on May 21 will remain muted this year due to the pandemic, another statement issued in his name has surfaced, giving a detailed charter of programmes and calling for a complete strike on that day.

The Hurriyat observes May 21 as martyr’s day in memory of Mirwaiz Mohammed Farooq and Abdul Ghani Lone, who were killed by militants on that day, 12 years apart.

Sources in central agencies said the second statement has been surreptitiously issued from Islamabad to put pressure on the Hurriyat leadership to create unrest on May 21. Sources in the Hurriyat also confirmed they have not issued any statement barring the first one in which they cancelled most programmes.

The development comes in the backdrop of Pakistan showing friendly overtures towards India in the recent past and the two countries agreeing to honour the 2003 ceasefire agreement on the Line of Control and International Border. Diplomatic engagements between the two countries are also said to have improved in the past few months.

On May 15, paying “glorious tributes” to Mirwaiz Muhammed Farooq and Abdul Gani Lone, the Jammu and Kashmir Awami Action Committee, which is headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said that various “commemorative functions held each year to pay tributes… over a period of one week called ‘Hafta-e-Shahadat’… stand cancelled as the coronavirus pandemic is ravaging through J&K”.

However, on May 18, another statement released in the name of All Party Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq gave out a detailed plan of action between May 18 and May 21. These included campaigns through social media, poster and banners, gatherings at the graves of the leaders before Friday prayers, meetings throughout Kashmir in masjids as well as in other places and complete strike in J&K.

It also announced programmes in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, including a press conference in Islamabad and protests against India in the city and elsewhere.

Sources in the security establishment said this statement first appeared on a website dedicated to Kashmir issues but run by Pakistan. Mirwaiz’s office has not officially released any statement barring the one in which events were cancelled.

“The Hurriyat did not celebrate martyr’s day last year too due to Covid. When they announced restrained commemoration this year as well, it appears to have perturbed Pakistan. Now they are putting pressure on Hurriyat leaders to do something and cause some unrest,” an officer said.

Mirwaiz Mohammed Farooq, Umar Farooq’s father, was assassinated by militants on May 21, 1990 at his residence in Srinagar. On May 21, 2002, Abdul Ghani Lone, father of People’s Conference leader Sajjad Lone, was gunned down by Pakistan-backed militants at the Idgah graveyard in Srinagar where he had gone to pay tributes to Farooq on his death anniversary. The assassinations came after Mirwaiz Mohammed Farooq made overtures of peace and Abdul Ghani Lone expressed willingness to participate in the electoral process. —Inputs from Basharat Masood, Srinagar

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