Scuffle in Delhi over Afzal Guru's hanging

New Delhi, Feb 9 (IANS) Members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal scuffled with Kashmiri youths at Jantar Mantar over the hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru here Saturday.

Around 25 members of the VHP and Bajrang Dal gathered at Jantar Mantar in central Delhi Saturday noon and raised slogans against Afzal Guru. They celebrated his hanging at the Tihar Jail Saturday morning, and distributed sweets and burst firecrackers.

Minutes later, around 20 Kashmiri students from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Delhi University (DU) arrived at the venue, holding placards that read "I am Afzal, hang me too" and chanted "Azad Kashmir" (Independent Kashmir).

They were accompanied by members of CPI(M-L), Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) and National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO), who were condemning capital punishment.

As these activists tried to put up posters supporting Afzal, the right-wing groups snatched the posters and tore them.

Tensions escalated as the rival protests took on a communal hue wihen both groups raised religious slogans and scuffled with each other as police struggled to keep them separated.

Two separate protests nearby - one demanding the widening of National Highway Nos.24 and 58 by Ghaziabad Residents Welfare Association and another demanding a separate Gorkhaland from West Bengal - joined the fray and raised slogans against Kashmiri students.

In the ensuing fisticuffs, a PUDR member had his face blackened by Bajrang Dal activists.

"They (Kashmiri students) are traitors. They live here, work here but talk about azadi (freedom). If they hate India so much, why don't they leave," said a furious Manoj Chadha, a Bajrang Dal member.

The Kashmiri students, on the other hand, said that Afzal Guru was not given a fair trial and accused the government of step-motherly treatment towards Kashmiris.

"We want a free Kashmir. We have had enough of this tyranny," said Junaid Aslam, a Delhi University student.

The situation was brought under control by policemen in riot gear who bundled the students into waiting buses and drove them away.

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