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Kashmir shuts down to commemorate Maqbool anniversary

Srinagar, February 11, 2008:

Maqbool Bhat
A shutdown called to commemorate the anniversary of Maqbool Bhat brought life in Indian administered Kashmir to a halt Monday.

The strike called by pro-freedom group Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) was supported by most of the separatist group in Kashmir.

Shops and business establishments were closed and attendance in government offices and banks was thin.

Transport in the summer capital Srinagar was minimal.

Bhat, regarded as the founder of JKLF was hanged in New Delhiís Tihar Jail on February 11, 1984.

Five years after his death JKLF emerged as a militant group spearheading the armed rebellion against Indian rule in Kashmir.

Kashmiri separatists demanding freedom from Kashmir, call Bhat a pioneer of freedom struggle.

Police rounded up several JKLF and Hurriyat Conference activists marching towards the office of UN Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan in Srinagar.

Kashmir separatists are also demanding the remains of Bhat, who was buried in the Tihar Jail premises, be handed over to them.

A controversy about a slain militant leader is also brewing up in neighbouring Sikh dominated Indian state of Punjab, where Sikh groups have announced to observe a slain militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala's birth anniversary on Feb 12.

Tension is growing between former Member Parliament Simranjit Singh Mann led Shiromani Akali Dal(Amritsar) and Shiv Sena(Hindustan) activists as Mann's party has announced to observe former Damdami Taksal chief Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala's 61st birth anniversary on February 12 in Fatehgarh Sahib and the Shiv Sena declared to observe this day as anti- terrorism day.

Bhindranwala was killed by Indian army in the infamous operation Blue Star inside the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar in June 1984.

Earlier, the Shiv Sena (Hindustan) had opposed the putting up of Bhindranwale portrait at the Sikh Museum in the Golden Temple complex last week.

The portrait was installed in the presence of Shri Gurduwara Prabandhak Committee president Avtar Singh Makkar and Bhindranwale son Ishar Singh and Mann party even congratulated Makkar and CM Parkash Singh Badal for installing the portrait but criticized by BJP and other parties.

Punjab witnessed an armed insurgency during the 80ís with Sikh groups fighting for a separate homeland Khalistan.




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