Kashmir separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq were detained in Srinagar while attempting to march towards Anantnag in south Kashmir on Monday, despite the ongoing curfew.
Eyewitnesses said that a group of policemen stationed outside Mirwaiz’s house in Nigeen detained the moderate separatist as he tried to break the cordon and leave his house.
Earlier, hard-line separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani was taken into custody outside his residence at Hyderpora in Srinagar.
A spokesman of Geelani said that he was taken to Humhama police station.
The separatist leaders, who have been under house arrest for a long while now, had asked people to join a rally in large numbers in Anantnag to “express solidarity with people there and pay glowing tributes to the recent martyrs”.
They were referring to the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani and two other militants who were killed in an encounter on July 8 in south Kashmir’s Kokernag area. As news of the deaths spread, sporadic protests erupted across the Valley, leading to a curfew being imposed almost immediately.
Locals clashing with security officials caused 49 deaths so far, including two policemen, mostly from injuries caused by pellet wounds – a fact that has caused much uproar among political opponents of the ruling parties. Over 2,000 were also wounded in the ensuing violence.
On Monday, restrictions remained in place in the southern districts of Pulwama, Anantnag, Kulgam and Shopian to prevent the ‘Anantnag chalo’ march called by separatists. They also remained in force in parts of old Srinagar and northern districts of Kupwara, Sopore and Baramulla.
Separatists have been calling for protests and strikes to oppose the deaths of Wani and his men, that of the civilians and the curfew. For this week, they issued a call to residents to march towards south Kashmir’s Kulgam district and Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid on Wednesday and Friday respectively.