Moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was detained at Srinagar airport on Thursday as he arrived from Delhi.
“As I stepped outside the airport tarmac, a police posse approa ched me saying I am placed under house arrest. I was driven to the Nigeen police station (in Srinagar). Thereafter, I was placed under house arrest. Nobody, not even the media people, was allowed to interact with me,” the Mirwaiz told the HT.
The Mirwaiz --- who was placed under house arrest in Delhi for 11 days since the execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru on February 9 --- was scheduled to address a joint meeting of moderate separatist leaders in Srinagar office “to chalk out a strategy” to bring back the remains of Guru, who is buried inside Tihar jail. The Mirwaiz was likely to offer unification progarmme to other hardline separatist groups for “a coordinated effort”.
However, the police had sealed the Hurriyat Conference office in Srinagar on Wednesday evening to abort the meeting.
The authorities are leaving nothing to chance in the Valley. It has tightened its noose around separatists to stop them from galvanizing mass protests over the hanging of Guru.
In a rare measure, hardline Hurriyat leader Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, who is No. 2 after Syed Ali Shah Geelani, alleged the police have jammed all means of communication at his residence.
“On Tuesday morning, a jammer was installed at my residence, barring all phone calls,” alleged Sehrai, who remains under house arrest.
He said the Hurriyat will not call for any protests if the government of India agrees to return the mortal remains of Afzal. “It is the timely solution to the prevailing situation,” said Sehrai, acting chairman of Hurriyat.
Hurriyat chairman Geelani, who is in Delhi, alleges he is not being allowed to step outside his residence.
The police refused to comment on using jammers but confirmed that separatist leaders have been placed under house arrest or taken into preventive custody.
Around a dozen top-ranking separatists remain either in jail or under house arrest. Police sources said around 250 Guru’s supporters were arrested from Srinagar, north and south Kashmir since the hanging.
“In a real democracy, one has right to express resentment but in Kashmir the people have been deprived of this right by using power,” said Zahid Ali, spokesperson of the Jamaat-e-Islami.
Meanwhile, life in Kashmir remained suspended for second consecutive day in the wake of separatists call for a three-day shutdown. Though shops and business establishments remained closed, there was significant presence of private and public transport on roads. The government offices also functioned normally in Srinagar and other districts.