SRINAGAR: Placed under house arrest, Heads of Hurriyat factions- Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq- have urged people to continue the Muzaffarabad chalo march on Tuesday. The two leaders talked over phone and unanimously decided to urge people to continue the march. “The march will continue tomorrow and people will join those who have already reached Varmul and Uri. The march is on for a cause and people have given sacrifices for it and it will continue,” Mirwaiz told Greater Kashmir over phone. Quoting the Hurriyat (G) chairman, Syed Ali Geelani, the party spokesman, Ayaz Akbar urged people to continue with the march.
Both the leaders, he said, condemned the use of brute force by police on the unarmed people while they were peacefully marching towards Muzaffarabad, protesting the enforced economic blockade of the Valley and harassment of Muslims in Jammu. The Mirwaiz said all the members of the coordination committee—consisting of members of both the factions of Hurriyat, traders and fruit growers—were either arrested by police or put under house arrest and none of them could meet since Sunday. “The situation is volatile but the march will continue,” he said.
He said the march was a step forward for the economic independence of the state. “We have to stand on our own feet and thrive for the economic independence. We don’t want to be dependant on the communal and fundamentalist forces of Jammu and Punjab who have held the Valley as hostage,” he said.
Accusing the police authorities of double standards, he said, that police was acting as mute spectators to rioters in Jammu and used brute force and opened fire on the unarmed protesters whose protests and march was justified because of the economic blockade. Mirwaiz also telephonically address the gathering at Chakoti on the other side of LoC where hundreds had gathered along with the essential commodities, eatables and life saving drugs to welcome the traders and fruit growers from Valley.
The overwhelming response evoked by the ‘Muzaffarabad March’ has worried the Indian army with Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor reviewed the Kashmir situation in a high level meeting of army officers in New Delhi. He has directed the soldiers deployed in north Kashmir to observe maximum restraint and not to fire on the protestors. Defence sources told Rising Kashmir that Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor has called a high level meeting of top army officers in New Delhi. “In the meeting, the present situation in Kashmir, especially “Muzaffarabad March”, in which thousands of people participated, was discussed threadbare. The meeting also reviewed the law and other situation in Kashmir,” the sources said.
They said that Army Chief called on General Officer Commanding (GoC) of 15 Corps, Lt Gen Sabharwal and directed him to visit Uri brigade headquarters and tell the soldiers and officers there to maintain maximum restraint. After the directions from the army chief, Sabharwal visited Army’s brigade headquarters in Uri and held deliberations with the soldiers and officers there.
Confirming visit of GOC to Uri brigade headquarters, defence spokesman, Lt Col A K Mathur told Rising Kashmir over phone from New Delhi, “Sabharwal had a detailed meeting with the army officers at Brigade headquarters in Uri today. He directed the soldiers and officers to keep their cool while dealing with the situation. He told soldiers not to use force to disperse the protestors.”
Mathur claimed that army did not fire a single bullet in Uri to control the protestors.”Army has been directed by the civil administration not to allow the people to cross LoC. We are maintaining calm and we will continue doing that,” Mathur said.”Army is facing very difficult situation in Kashmir and we are hopeful that we will succeed in dealing with it peacefully,” he said, adding, “The army chief was in constant touch with the GoC 15 Corps and was giving directions to him”. Sources said on the instructions of senior officers, the soldiers made huge trenches and placed barbed wire on roads at various places at Rampur, Uri to prevent people from marching towards Muzaffarabad.