Kashmiri's hanging leads to fears of new unrest

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 12, 2013 at 8:10 am •  Published: February 12, 2013

"This hanging has magnified manifold the sense of alienation and dejection and has plunged Kashmir into new cycle of uncertainty," said Sheikh Showkat Hussain, an international law professor at Central University of Kashmir. "This has also closed the doors of any reconciliation for those who wanted to be a bit moderate toward India."

Unknown residents have, meanwhile, put up a tombstone as a mark over an empty grave for Guru in the main martyr's graveyard in Srinagar. The epitaph reads: "His mortal remains are lying in trust with the government of India. Kashmiri nation awaits its return."

Since 1989, an armed uprising in the region and an ensuing crackdown have killed an estimated 68,000 people, mostly civilians. But in recent years, as the uprising waned, Kashmiris took a different tack, taking to the streets to protest, often in response to an event that triggered anger across the region.

In 2008, a government decision — later revoked — to transfer land to a Hindu shrine set off a summer of protests.

The next year, the alleged rape and murder of two young women by security forces set off the violence.

In 2010, the trigger was a police investigation that accused soldiers of killing three civilians and then staging a fake gunbattle to make it appear the dead were militants.

In all three years, hundreds of thousands of young men took to the streets, hurling rocks and abuse at Indian forces.

In 2010 alone, 112 people were killed as troops fired live ammunition into the crowds, inciting further protests in a deadly cycle of violence.

Though the last two years have been relatively calm, the violence after Guru's execution — with troops firing tear gas and bullets and using batons to chase away rock-throwing protesters — brought back memories from a time many here had hoped was over.

Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, a former Indian home minister who has also been the chief minister of Indian Kashmir, said Guru's hanging was a "serious setback to peace."

At least 40 separatist leaders and activists have been detained and put under house arrest to prevent them from leading anti-India protests, a police officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a top separatist leader, told reporters in New Delhi that the hanging damaged hopes for any future negotiations with the government.

"Once you push people to the wall they have no other way but to respond with equal aggression," he said Saturday, after the hanging. Soon after, he was placed under house arrest.