February 11, 2010 / 11:20 AM / 11 years ago

Kashmiris seek remains of JKLF leader Maqbool Bhat

Members of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) carrying pictures of Maqbool Bhat march during a protest to mark the anniversary of the hanging of Bhat, in Srinagar February 11, 2010. REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli

SRINAGAR (Reuters) - Shops and business remained closed and people stayed indoors in Srinagar on Thursday during a protest to demand the remains of Mohammad Maqbool Bhat, a separatist leader hanged and buried in New Delhi’s Tihar jail over two decades ago.

Bhat, founder of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), was executed on February 11, 1984 on the charge of killing an Indian intelligence officer. JKLF denies the charge.

“The mortal remains of Shaheed (martyr) Bhat be handed over to Kashmiris for proper burial,” JKLF said in a statement and called for a general strike.

Five years after Bhat’s hanging, simmering discontent against New Delhi’s rule turned into a full-blown rebellion that has killed tens of thousands so far.

Thousands of police and paramilitary soldiers patrolled deserted streets in Muslim-majority Kashmir valley to prevent protests on the anniversary of Bhat’s execution, witnesses said.

They said other major towns of Kashmir observed a complete shutdown.

JKLF, which declared a ceasefire against Indian security forces in 1994, says it leads a political struggle for Kashmir’s complete independence both from India and Pakistan.

Reporting by Sheikh Mushtaq

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