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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Islamic rebels warn India over execution

Haveeru Online: Islamic rebels warned Friday of "dire consequences" if India executes a Kashmiri Muslim convicted over a 2001 attack on parliament, as a protest strike paralysed the state's main city.

The threat came on the third day of protests in insurgency-racked Indian Kashmir against a New Delhi judge's order for Mohammed Afzal, one of the masterminds of the attack, to be hanged October 20.

"We warn of dire consequences if the death sentence is carried out," said Sadaqat Hussain, spokesman for the United Jihad Council, Indian Kashmir's main militant alliance which fights New Delhi's rule here.

Hussain did not make any specific threats in the statement published in local Indian Kashmiri newspapers but said Afzal was innocent.

Shops, businesses and schools were closed in Srinagar to protest the planned execution of Afzal who was convicted of conspiracy in the assault on parliament in December 2001 which left 14 people dead, including the attackers, and brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war.
The one-day strike, which followed two days of street demonstrations and running battles with police, was called by the hardline wing of the region's main separatist alliance, the Hurriyat Conference, and backed by the United Jihad Council.

A leading separatist Yasin Malik said he would travel to New Delhi to take up the matter of Afzal's death sentence with lawyers and human rights activists.

"A massive agitation to save Afzal will continue to press for repeal of the death sentence," he said.

India blamed Pakistan-backed militants fighting against its rule in Indian Kashmir for the attack on parliament but Islambad denied the charge.

The nuclear-armed neighbours which have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir each control part of the Himalayan region but claim it in full.

Afzal can still seek clemency from India's president, but his family said he opposes such a move. They allege that Afzal was not given a fair trial.

Last month, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence against Afzal over the attack, saying there was no doubt about his complicity in carrying out the "terrorist act of (a) most diabolical nature."
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