Kashmir shutdown on anniversary of leader's hanging

SRINAGAR - Indian-held Kashmir witnessed a complete shutdown for the third consecutive day Wednesday. 

The protests marked the anniversary of the hanging of pro-independence leader Mohammad Maqbool Butt by Indian authorities in 1984.

The killing of a 19-year old youth, shot by police, during a shutdown Monday -- to mark the execution of another Kashmiri in 2013 -- saw protests extend into Tuesday with clashes between protesters and police. 

Despite restrictions imposed by Indian authorities, there were reports of protests and clashes at several points in Indian-held Kashmir on Wednesday. 

Butt, a popular pro-independence leader, was hanged in New Delhi’s Tihar prison by Indian authorities on Feb. 11, 1984.

Butt was buried on the prison premises and none of his remains were returned to his family. A demand for his remains has resonated throughout Kashmir for years.

"We tried so many times to only visit his grave but the Indian government does not allow us to go anywhere close to the prison," Butt’s sister, Mehmooda, told The Anadolu Agency. "But he is in our hearts and the heads of hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris and that is not within India’s power to hide in a prison."

Butt’s family in Trehgam in northern Indian-held Kashmir is largely a family of widows and orphans. One of his brothers disappeared, another was killed in a gunfight with Indian soldiers, another killed in a mysterious accident and the youngest brother, Zahoor Ahmad, languishes in the central jail in Srinagar.

"After Maqbool, all his brothers followed the path of fighting for their country and all of us suffered, and I respect the lives and deaths of them all," Butt’s mother, Shahmali Begum, told AA.  "We only hope that the dream of my sons and the dreams of tens of thousands of Kashmiris who were killed for fighting for independence comes true."

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. The two countries have fought three full-fledged wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.

Since 1989, Kashmiri resistance groups in IHK have been fighting against the Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict so far.

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