Geelani urges Centre to return Guru's remains

Hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Geelani on Friday made the return of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s body a “single point demand” and extended the shutdown call in Kashmir Valley till February 17.

“Return of the body of Mohammad Afzal Guru and return of mortal remains of Muhammad Maqbool Bhat (JKLF leader who was hanged in Tihar jail in 1984) is the single point programme of Hurriyat,” Geelani was quoted by a local news agency as having said from New Delhi.

He extended the shutdown call for February 16 and 17 and said there will be no strike on February 18 (Monday). He added that the future programme (protest calendar) will be decided later.

While condemning the restrictions and use of force to sabotage Friday’s programme aimed at offering funeral prayers in absentia for Guru, the Hurriyat hawk said, “despite restrictions and efforts at sabotaging the Friday programme to press for return of mortal remains of Guru apart from offering funeral prayers in absentia for him, people came out at various places and offered prayers in absentia apart from registering their protest.”

He claimed that the programme was not political in nature “as return of the body of Guru was a moral and legal right of his family.

“The government of India should have no hesitation in fulfilling the demand of the family and Kashmiri people. Shaheed (martyr) Guru was not given an opportunity to defend himself during trial. And not providing an opportunity to him before execution was totally barbaric, inhuman and undemocratic,” Geelani added.

Meanwhile, strict restrictions were imposed across the Kashmir Valley on Friday, which continues to remain under curfew for the seventh straight day following the execution of Guru on February 9. 

Reports said several people were injured in clashes between protesters and security forces even as congregational Friday prayers were not offered at many mosques including the historic Jamia Masjid here.

In the wake of apprehensions of protests and stone throwing, authorities had imposed strict curfew on towns and cities in the valley. Additional forces were deployed and the police personnel were keeping a strict vigil in wake of separatist-sponsored call for demonstrations to press the authorities for returning the body of Guru.

Police made public announcements asking people not to come out of their homes. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had said that there would be no restriction on people offering Friday prayers in their local mosques.

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