Kashmir 'gag' protest

Calcutta, Feb. 13: Afzal Guru's execution and the consequent "gag" on public opinion will further shrink the "space for democratic voices" in Kashmir, the chairperson of the Association of Families of Kashmiri Prisoners, Anjum Zamarud Habib, said here today.

"The government has turned the entire Valley into a vast prison after Guru's execution. Almost all of our leaders have been put under house arrest and censorship has been imposed on the media there," Habib said.

"The people of the Valley are cut off from the rest of the world since access to the Internet has also been denied. Public life is paralysed under the prolonged curfew. Even baby food is not available. Do we really deserve this from the largest democracy in the world," she asked.

Habib was speaking at a convention organised by the Co-ordination of Democratic Rights Organisation (CDRO) to pursue demands for releasing political prisoners across the country.

Habib had spent almost five years in Tihar jail as an undertrial after being booked in a case under Pota (the defunct anti-terrorism law) in 2003. Released on bail in 2007, she had been shuttling between Srinagar and Delhi to fight her case since then, Habib said.

The middle-aged former teacher, who is now a leader of the women's group Muslim Khawateen Markaz, is also a member of the Hurriyat Conference faction led by hardliner Syed Ali Shah Gilani.

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