Srinagar, Feb 3: Jammu and Kashmir will witness a virtual shut down on February 9 and 11 as the Hurriyat Conference has decided to mark the death anniversaries of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat respectively.
Both Afzal Guru and Bhat were hanged at the Tihar jail. While Afzal Guru was convicted for the Parliament attack, Bhat the founder of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front was hanged after being guilty of two murders.
The name of Afzal Guru resurfaced during both the attacks at Pathankot and Mazar-e-Sharif (Afghanistan) recently. In both these attacks the fidayeens had left behind pamphlets singing praises of Afzal Guru. It had become a clear strategy to capitalise on his name and start a movement in Kashmir.
Intelligence Bureau officials say that the attempt was replicate what was done post the hanging of Bhat. The hanging of Maqbool Bhat in 1984 had become the focal point of the Kashmir movement five years later.
The Ghost of Afzal Guru returns:
There are desperate attempts being made by both Pakistan based terrorist groups and also the Hurriyat Conference to stir up passions in the name of Afzal Guru. Immediately after his hanging three years back there was no uproar in Kashmir.
However, if one looks at the case of Bhat, then it is something to worry about. This because there was a relative calm in Kashmir after his hanging in 1984. Five years later several groups used the hanging to stir up passions which led to a violent movement in Kashmir.
On February 9 and 11 the Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani have decided to observe a strike in Jammu and Kashmir. They are also planning on having demonstrations at Saudi Arabia, Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Canada, Germany and United Arab Emirates. The demand would be to seek the return of their mortal remains which is at Tihar jail.
The message goes beyond:
Geelani has stated that the intention is to tell the people that both Guru and Bhat are part of the Kashmir freedom movement.
It is a clear attempt to stir up passions and one needs to be careful or matters could well go out of control says an officer with the intelligence bureau. We have alerted the police to be on high alert, the officer also added.
Both the recent attacks at Pathankot and Mazar-e-Sharif too attempted to send out one common message and that was to Kashmir. The Jaish-e-Mohammad made it extremely clear that they want to stoke emotions and make Kashmir a rallying point once again.
The terrorists who stole the vehicle of the Superintendent of Police (Gurdaspur) had left a note. The note read Long live Jaish-e-Muhammad . From Tangdhar to Sambha Kathua you will find loyalists of Afzal Guru who will readily lay down their lives for him.
A similar message was found at Mazar-e-Sharif as well. Here the message read, " Afzal Guru- a martyr for whom there will be a 1,000 fidayeens. Both these messages make it amply clear that the Jaish-e-Mohammad is using the Afzal Guru slogan to churn sentiments in Kashmir.
Maulana Masood Azhar, the chief of the JeM has written a lot about Afzal Guru in some magazines published by his outfit. He had repeatedly tried to say that India had been running a smear campaign against Afzal Guru so that there is no reaction in Kashmir.
Intelligence Bureau officials say that the message that the Jaish-e-Mohammad is trying to convene is extremely clear. They are hoping to replicate the events that occurred following the execution of Bhat.
They believe that they can still evoke sentiments in Kashmir quoting Afzal Guru. While it is a worrying trend, Indian officials however feel that the times have changed and the Jaish-e-Mohammad may not be successful this time around.