Shops remained shut and public transport was off the roads in the Valley today against a High Court verdict which rejected the release of separatist leader Ashiq Hussain Faktoo.

Faktoo is serving life sentence and is in jail for the last 20 years.

Most businesses around Srinagar and other major towns of the Valley remained closed in response to the shutdown called by chairman of the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

The inter-district public transport service was also disrupted by the shutdown. Private vehicles were plying normally in Srinagar city and most of the banks were open. The day passed off peacefully.

Geelani had last week called for a shutdown on Monday to protest against the High Court verdict which rejected Faktoo’s release petition, who was a former militant commander.

Geelani termed the verdict as a “political vendetta” and accused the courts of being “subservient to the government”.

Faktoo has been in jail since 1993. He was arrested for killing human rights activist HN Wanchoo.

The shutdown call was supported by the United Jehad Council, an umbrella group of several militant outfits led by Hizbul Mujahideen’s Syed Salahuddin, and Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Faktoo, alias Dr Qasim, was briefly released in 2000 before being jailed again.

The High Court on Friday had dismissed the petition seeking Faktoo’s release on the ground that he had already served a life sentence.

“Life imprisonment means conviction for whole life and not for 20 years,” Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir had said in the judgment while ruling against Faktoo’s release.

Faktoo, who is currently lodged in Srinagar Central Jail, is the husband of Asiya Andrabi – a hardline separatist and leader of radical women group Dukhtaran-e-Millat.

 

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