Hartal in Valley over life term for separatist

Life in Srinagar and other parts of the Kashmir was affected on Monday due to a shutdown called by separatists against Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s verdict awarding life imprisonment to a senior separatist leader, Mohammad Qasim Faktoo.

Last week, the High Court ruled that “life imprisonment meant imprisonment for life” while disposing of a petition by Faktoo, chairman of the Muslim League Faktoo, who had pleaded for release since he had already completed 14 years in jail after being sentenced for life by a trial court.

The strike was called by hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and supported by United Jihad Council, an amalgam of militant outfits, and Lashkar-e-Toiba. Reports said shops, business establishments and offices remained closed in major districts, including Srinagar, while public transport remained off the roads.

Authorities deployed large number of police and paramilitary CRPF troops to thwart any protest by separatists. Police laid concertina wire and deployed armoured vehicles at sensitive places in old city of Srinagar.

Reports from north Kashmir towns of Baramulla, Kupwara, Sopore, Handwara and Bandipora said shops and business establishments remained closed while inter-district bus services also remained suspended. Major districts of south Kashmir, including Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian also observed a shutdown, reports added.

Police claimed that strike call evoked feeble response. “The day passed off peacefully with private transport plying normally in Srinagar and other towns,” a spokesperson said.

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