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Qasim Faktoo’s detention: Life paralysed as Kashmir shuts
SRINAGAR, Nov 19: Normal life in Kashmir remained paralysed today on account of the strike over Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s judgment against Dr Muhammad Qasim Fuktoo.

Since early morning, shops and business establishments across Kashmir remained closed. The public transport, including buses, Sumos and auto-rickshaws, was off the roads. Private cars were also moving around in limited numbers.

The attendance in government offices was extremely thin and the banks also witnessed a drop in the routine business. The educational institutions including schools, colleges and universities also remained closed. The valley presented a deserted look overall.

The High Court Bar Association, Kashmir, also responded to the strike call and stayed away from the work. Consequently, the courts remained non-functional.

In the afternoon, minor clashes were reported from Saraf Kadal and Khanyar areas in the old city. The youths took to streets and attacked with stones the policemen deployed in the area. They were, however, chased away by police. No injuries were reported.

Small processions were taken out from Nowhatta, Rajouri Kadal area later in the evening. The protesters were demanding release of Dr Qasim.

Apart from the summer capital, normal life in North as well as South Kashmir remained largely affected.

The strike was called by the Chairman Hurriyat Conference (G), Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front. It had come in response to the HC’s dismissal of the petition for release of Dr Qasim.

Dr Qasim, Chairman Muslim League, has been in jail for more than 20 years on various charges since 1993. Earlier, a bench of the HC had directed to release him within 90 days. The government had challenged the decision in division bench, winning it in September 2011. But the division bench had observed that the case be considered after 20 years of imprisonment.

The latest judgment by Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir, however, has ruled that life imprisonment means imprisonment for entire life.

“It is the domain of the Government to consider the case along with the recommendation made and pass the order. Writ of mandamus cannot command the Government for passing such order or to release the convict after expiry of 14 years or 20 years without any specific order,” he had remarked while making the judgment.

Geelani, in a press conference on the next morning, described the judgment as “dictated by the Chief Minister” and appealed people to observe strike “to express displeasure against it (judgment).” The JKLF, on the other hand, termed it as “undemocratic and inhuman”.

The Hurriyat Conference (G) conglomerate, of which Geelani is the Chairman, has hailed the people for the strike, calling it a “referendum against human rights violations.”

“By making the strike a success, people have showed that human rights violations cannot be tolerated…Today’s strike was a referendum against human rights violations,” the spokesman said in a press statement issued here this evening.

The conglomerate has asked Omar Abdullah to respect the “people’s verdict”.

“The people have announced their verdict against the judgment. People’s court is the biggest of all and Omar Abdullah shall respect it too,” he added.

Around 20 Kashmiris are said to be serving life imprisonment on various political grounds. While the judgment is believed to affect their cases too, the conglomerate said the strike would boost their morale.

“The strike shall tell them (prisoners) that the nation has not forgotten them,” the spokesman said.

News Updated at : Monday, November 19, 2012
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