Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir police on Saturday lifted a siege laid two day back around the house of Kashmiri separatist leader and chief Muslim cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in Srinagar’s Nigeen area to allow him to visit a private city hospital where his wife Sheeba Masoodi gave birth to a baby boy in the morning.
Mirwaiz, 44, was among key separatist leaders and activists who were placed under house arrest or detained in police stations ahead of the death anniversaries of pro-independence Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Front co-founder Muhammad Maqbool Butt and Parliament attack convict Muhammad Afzal Guru.
Butt, charged with murder of Indian intelligence officer Amar Chand in Bomai area of Sopore in mid-1960s, was executed in Delhi Tihar jail on February 11, 1984. Like Guru, who was hanged to death in the same jail on February 9, 2013, Butt’s mortal remains were also buried inside the prison premises.
Mirwaiz was allowed to come out of his residence and drive to Modern Hospital in Srinagar’s Zero Bridge area after he told the officials that he wants to visit his wife and their newborn son.
He married Masoodi, the youngest daughter of Sibtain Masoodi, a Kashmiri doctor who left the Valley in the 1970s and settled in Buffalo (USA) in 2002. The couple has two daughters, Maryam, 8 and Zainab, 6. Soon after the siege was lifted, hundreds of his supporters visited him to congratulate him.
Family sources said that his son is likely to be named Ibrahim or Yusuf, the Quranic names of Abraham and Joseph, respectively.
Meanwhile, clashes between irate crowds and police erupted at a few places in the Valley on Saturday during a general strike called by separatists to commemorate the death anniversary of Butt.
Also, curfew-like restrictions were imposed on Srinagar and some other places outside the summer capital to hold back street protests by separatists. The restrictions and shutdown threw life in the Valley out of gear.
Protests and clashes were reported from Trehgam , the hometown of Butt in frontier Kupwara district, Palhalan village of neighbouring Baramulla district and some parts of Srinagar.
Earlier on Friday, the security forces foiled a march on the summer headquarters of the United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) in Srinagar's Gupkar Road area called by an alliance of key separatists-Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mriwaiz Umar and Muhammad Yasin Malik. It had asked the people to converge at the City's central square Lal Chowk, the starting point for the proposed march to the UNMOGIP office to present a memorandum demanding the mortal remains of Butt and Guru be returned to their families in Kashmir so that they are give "decent funeral". Malik was arrested by police and sent to Srinagar Central Jail after foiling an attempt by him and activists of his Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front to relocate to Lal Chowk.
The Valley had witnessed a strike on Thursday as well. The security forces had also enforced a lockdown in parts of Srinagar and a couple of other places to hold back protests planned on Guru’s anniversary.