August 28, 2016 4:01:28 am
Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who was taken into custody Friday when he tried to take part in a march to Eidgah, has been arrested and shifted to a tourist hut at Cheshma Shahi that has been turned into a sub jail.
While the separatist leader has been detained and placed under house arrest on several occasions, this is the first time that he has been arrested.
State government’s spokesperson and Education Minister Naeem Akhtar told The Indian Express: “This is a temporary requirement till normalcy is restored.” The state police, however, remained silent over the arrest.
The arrest of Mirwaiz has come at a time when the government is struggling to contain the unrest in the Valley that erupted after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter on July 8.
So far, 70 civilians have been killed in clashes with the security forces.
Chairman of Hurriyat’s hardline faction, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who is leading the protest in the Valley along with Mirwaiz, has condemned the arrest, saying that it indicates the “frustration” of the state and central governments. “These cowardly and childish moves indicate the frustration and mental bankruptcy of the Indian as well as the local administration. But they cannot deter us by these foolish acts,” Geelani said Saturday.
Geelani too was detained Saturday morning when he left his residence to march towards the Army’s 15 Corps headquarters. He was later put on house arrest.
The joint Hurriyat leadership had earlier announced that its top leaders would march towards the Army headquarters on Saturday and hand over a letter to GOC, 15 Corps, Lt Gen Satish Dua, asking the security personnel to vacate the Valley.
On Saturday morning, all roads leading to the Army headquarters were sealed by the police and paramilitary forces.
The Hurriyat has, meanwhile, released the letter titled ‘Quit JK’ and has asked people to e-mail it to Army officers.
The call for march to the Army headquarters came after Army chief General Dalbir Singh Tuesday urged people in the Valley to “eschew violence and help restore peace and calm at the earliest”. Singh also said there is a “need to synergise efforts with all the other stakeholders”.
Earlier, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen D S Hooda, speaking at a press meet in Srinagar, had urged “everybody involved, whether it is security forces, whether it is separatists, governments, student leaders. to find some way forward”.
The call for the march towards Army headquarters is seen as a toughening of stand by the separatist leadership. While they have been announcing weekly protest calendars, this is the first time since the unrest began when they gave a call for a march to the 15 Corps headquarters.
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