Curfew-bound Kashmir calm but tense after Guru's hanging

Last Updated: Sat, Feb 09, 2013 06:08 hrs

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir was tense but calm Saturday as the news of Afzal Guru's hanging in Delhi's Tihar Jail spread. Authorities clamped a curfew in all major cities and towns of the Kashmir Valley as police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in full battle gear fanned out to pre-empt protests.

Local cable operators have been told to suspend their operations immediately, sources here said.

Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh told mediapersons in Delhi that Afzal Guru had been hanged in Tihar Jail at 8 a.m. Saturday after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected his mercy petition.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, state Junior Minister for Home Sajad Kichloo and J&K Director General of Police Ashok Prasad flew into Srinagar from Jammu Saturday morning to supervise the law and order situation.

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq's moderate Hurriyat group announced a four-day mourning on Afzal Guru's hanging.

"We have announced four days of mourning on Afzal Guru's hanging. We demand that his body be handed over to his family immediately," Shahid-ul-Islam, secretary of the Mirwaiz, told IANS.

He said that the Mirwaiz is presently in Delhi and would be flying back to Srinagar soon.

Senior hardline separatist leader and chairman of his Hurriyat group Syed Ali Geelani is also in Delhi.

When IANS contacted Geelani's secretary Ayaz Akbar on phone, it was informed that Akbar had been arrested.

Sources close to Geelani said he had also announced a three-day mourning on Afzal Guru's hanging.

Another senior separatist leader, Muhammad Nayeem Khan, was arrested Friday in connection with an FIR against him for issuing a provocative statement in 2010.

Afzal Guru was from Doabgah (Seer) village on the outskirts of north Kashmir's apple-rich town of Sopore, 52 km from Srinagar.

He is survived by his wife Tabassum and 14-year-old son Ghalib.

Afzal Guru was arrested after the Dec 13, 2001, terror attack on parliament. He was convicted along with Shaukat Hussain, Afshan Guru (Shaukat's wife) and Delhi University teacher S.A.R. Geelani for being part of the plot.

The Supreme Court confirmed Afzal Guru's death sentence in 2004 while Shaukat Guru was released after he served his jail term.

Afshan Guru and S.A.R. Geelani were given benefit of doubt and released by the Supreme Court.

Five heavily armed terrorists had attacked parliament Dec 13, 2001, while it was in session. All the five terrorists and nine other people were killed in the attack, which had brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

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