Separatist leader Yasin Malik, who had dared the authorities to arrest him after his recent controversial protest in Pakistan, was detained at the Srinagar airport on Sunday on his arrival from Pakistan via Delhi. He was placed under house arrest and the area around his home -Maisuma in Srinagar city - was put under a security blanket.
The JKLF chief, who was on a private visit to Pakistan, had organised a protest in Islamabad after the execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. There he had shared dais with Hafiz Sayeed, Lashkar-e-Toiba leader and 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind. When India buzzed with criticism, Malik had said he was ready for anything - arrest or the confiscation of his passport.
Government sources, however denied that Malik's house arrest had anything to do with the meeting with Sayeed. "It is due to the prevailing atmosphere in the Valley after Guru's execution," said a senior security official in Delhi.
Union home ministry officials also said no offence can be made out against Malik regarding his meeting with Sayeed. At the most, his passport can be impounded, but it is due to expire on March 19 anyway, an official said. "The ministry of external affairs may demand that Malik's passport be impounded, but at the moment, no decision has been taken in this regard," he added.
Malik had earlier denied that he had invited Sayeed to join the demonstration. "It was a hunger-strike and no one was invited," he repeated in Srinagar on Sunday.
The separatists, meanwhile, decided to prolong their agitation to press for the return of Afzal's body. A fresh protest calendar was issued on Sunday.