Srinagar: The Jammu & Kashmir Police Tuesday filed an FIR against unknown people for allegedly circulating a letter calling for a strike Wednesday in commemoration of Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Burhan Wani, who was killed in an encounter four years ago on 8 July.
Police said the letter was being circulated as a missive from senior separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani, 91, but stated he hadn’t written it.
“We filed an FIR in this regard as soon as we confirmed with the family (of Geelani) whether he had written the letter. It was informed to us that he (Geelani) had not issued or written any such letter,” said Budgam senior superintendent of police (SSP) Ashok Amod Nagpuri.
“We are now looking for individuals who circulated the letter on social media with an intent to create a law and order situation in the region,” he added.
According to police, the FIR invokes Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which pertains to incitement to violence, and Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with publishing or circulation of statements that cause fear and alarm in public.
The official Twitter handle of Kashmir Police said the letter had been published “from Pakistan”. “Police is taking action against those who are circulating it through different social media platforms to instigate violence and create L&O (law and order) problems,” it said.
— Kashmir Zone Police (@KashmirPolice) July 7, 2020
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As per the family sources of SAS Geelani the letter is fake and not issued by him. This is published from Pakistan. Police is taking action against those who are circulating it through different social media platforms to instigate violence and create L&O problems. @JmuKmrPolice pic.twitter.com/BafD7D8usq
— Kashmir Zone Police (@KashmirPolice) July 7, 2020
Authorities on alert
Wani’s killing in July 2016 had triggered a six-month-long violent agitation in which more than 100 civilians were killed and thousands injured, including those wounded by the controversial pellet guns used by the security forces.
The letter sought to pay tribute to Wani and two other militants killed in the 8 July encounter, which took place in south Kashmir’s Bumdooru area.
“Syed Ali Shah Geelani has asked people to observe a complete strike on 8 July and 13 July and offers tribute to martyrs by holding prayer meetings at Mazar-i-Shuhada across occupied Jammu and Kashmir (sic),” the letter, shared by Kashmir Police on Twitter, states. “The Quaid has also asked people to organise ‘Day with Martyrs family’,” the letter adds.
The second date mentioned in the letter refers to “Martyrs day”, which is observed locally in remembrance of 24 Kashmiri protesters killed in 1931 by the forces of the Valley’s erstwhile Dogra rulers. The day was removed from the official holiday list of Jammu and Kashmir after the scrapping of Article 370 last year.
The emergence of the letter a day before Wani’s death anniversary has put the authorities in Kashmir on high alert. Although there has been no increase in troop deployment, sources said the J&K Police brass has directed district-level officers to tighten vigil Wednesday and prevent any untoward incident.
“At the moment we are concerned only about individuals who circulated the letter. We are not concerned about who wrote it,” Nagpuri said.
Security agencies are looking at the “intent behind the circulation of the letter”. “Police will investigate whether the letter was intended to stoke violence or if it was part of a larger conspiracy,” a senior police officer told ThePrint.
Police officers stated that the letter appeared to have been written by Kashmiri separatists based in Pakistan and circulated on social media by a Twitter profile “that claims to represent Geelani”.
Geelani has been in news in recent days after he declared that he had decided to part ways with his faction of the All Party Hurriyat Conference (G), a conglomerate of over a dozen separatist outfits. The move was widely seen as a result of Geelani’s disillusionment with Pakistan-based separatists, whom he accused of corruption.
There was also a view within the security establishment in Kashmir that the move by Geelani had the blessing of the Pakistani establishment, which intends to “rejuvenate” Kashmiri separatism after the alleged beating it suffered in light of the 2019 Pulwama suicide bombing.
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