Omar asks separatists not to prolong strike
‘Can’t Stop People From Identifying With Afzal, Maqbool, Geelani’
GK MONITORING DESK
Srinagar, Feb 14: Asking separatists not to prolong the ongoing protest strike, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Thursday said he can’t stop people from identifying with Afzal Guru. “How can I tell or force people not to identify with him (Afzal)? This is not a totalitarian state,” Omar told a Delhi-based wire service in an interview.
“If somebody wants to identify with Maqbool Bhatt, with Syed Ali Shah Geelani or with Afzal Guru they will identify and we have to recognize that. I can’t force people not to identify with him any more than the Government of India could force people in the 50s and 60s not to identify with Sheikh Abdullah. They couldn’t, they tried their level best to get Kashmiris not to identify with Sheikh Abdullah. They kept him in jail, they kept him in exile, but people identified with him,” Omar said.
The Chief Minister said; “I am hoping that the separatist leadership will not try and prolong this protest (over Afzal hanging).”
Omar said the government had a difficult week or so to deal with in the aftermath of the execution of Afzal Guru. “We are continuing to deal with that situation. It’s had fallout on our tourism numbers already. We have seen a reduction in arrivals, we have seen a spate of cancellations. I am hoping that the separatist leadership will not try and prolong this protest that they want to. I think if those words in the newspapers are correct, then one of Afzal Guru’s dying wishes was that peace should prevail and that his death should not be a reason to cause violence or heap even more suffering on the people. If that be the case, then I think people should recognize that and hopefully we will be able to tide over this difficult time,” Omar said.
Regarding handing over of Guru’s body to his family for last rites, the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister said: “We have received representation. I received a copy of the representation that was addressed to the DC (District Collector) of Baramulla. I have asked for that representation to be forwarded to the Government of India. It’s part of an ongoing discussion with them. Beyond that, I don’t want to say anything.”
Omar said there is no connection between the February 9 execution of Afzal Guru and the application of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
“Using the Afzal Guru execution to suggest that AFSPA as an issue cannot be discussed is not acceptable,” he said and added that the debate on where the AFSPA should be used or used was not over.
Talking about the restrictions ordered by the state government in the valley in the wake of Guru’s hanging, Omar said, “There have been restriction assessments in Kashmir. If not restricted, then the protest following the execution would have become the cause of concern. We continue maintaining the situation in Kashmir valley. All the mobile services are restricted temporarily. All the internet services are on.”
Justifying continued restriction on mobile services, he said, “Main reason to restrict the mobile services is they are the only source to spread rumours. Temporarily mobile services are suspended. Local publications are also the victims. Local publications are not forced to not to print. No one forced the local publications.”
Commenting on JKLF chief Yasin Malik sharing stage Jamat-ud-Daawah chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Omar said; “Yasin Malik has made a mistake of being caught in photos but not of protest. There is nothing new in this. Yasin Malik should not be arrested for this issue. Why the government didn’t arrest him earlier? He has said that he met Hafiz Saeed many times before.”
Lastupdate on : Thu, 14 Feb 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 14 Feb 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 15 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST
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