Police put several separatist leaders under house arrest to stop them from participating in traders’ protest rally in Lal Chowk on the first flood anniversary on Monday.
While Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Geelani continues to remain under house arrest, Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Chairman Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Muhammad Yasin Malik, senior separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah and other leaders were placed under house arrest late Sunday evening.
Talking to us, Mirwaiz said he had met traders last week and agreed to participate in a function at Lal Chowk where “real heroes” of last year’s floods, including civil society members, were supposed to be felicitated.
“Confining us to our houses reflects the frustration of the government. The harsh restrictions on Hurriyat leaders on the eve of first anniversary of floods are a signal that government is not interested in people’s welfare or allowing Hurriyat leaders to take any initiative,” said Mirwaiz. “I believe it is high time for people of Kashmir to rise to the occasion and launch self-help initiatives. The government only wants to deal with Hurriyat and people of Kashmir with iron-fist as was seen today.”
Other Hurriyat (M) leaders including Advocate Shahid-ul-Islam and Javaid Ahmad Mir were also placed under house arrest, sources said.
Police also placed JKLF chief Malik under house arrest along with some of the Front leaders. “I strongly condemn the crackdown on pro-freedom leaders and traders. Curfew-like restrictions on flood anniversary day are highly condemnable,” he said. “Undemocratic acts of the rulers have exposed them and it is now clear that PDP-BJP government can cross any limit to muzzle the voice of Kashmiris.”
Malik also confirmed that he was supposed to take part in traders’ function at Lal Chowk. “They had invited me,” he said.
Hurriyat (G) spokesman Ayaz Akbar said Geelani continues to remain under house arrest and police Monday detained Tehreek-e-Hurriyat General Secretary Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, and other leaders of the party including Altaf Ahmad Shah, Raja Mehraj-ud-din and Mir Hafizullah. Akbar himself was placed under house detention.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Srinagar, Amit Kumar said neither traders nor separatists had the permission to participate in any function at Lal Chowk. “They were offered a separate venue at S K Park which they denied,” he said. “We can’t allow separatists to assemble at Lal Chowk, which is a sensitive place.”