Despite the holy month of Ramadan starting on Friday, the authorities have decided to clampdown on separatist leaders and their supporters to avert their scheduled protest march towards north Kashmir’s restive town of Sopore.
All separatist leaders, including hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani, moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik, have either been taken into preventive custody or placed under house arrest ahead of the march.
The Mirwaiz, while denouncing his house arrest, alleged that with the beginning of Ramadan, the social, political and religious activities of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) chairman have been restricted. “It aptly exposes the dictatorial face of the authorities,” he alleged. He alleged that curbs had been imposed on his movement.
Restrictions on separatists came in the wake of a joint call of separatist groups to march towards the victim families of Sopore, where six civilians were killed in mysterious circumstances in the past three weeks.
“We appeal to the people that they should fully support the programme given by the leadership to protest the killing of unarmed youth by unidentified gunmen in Sopore,” said a Hurriyat spokesman.
Hardline Hurriyat chairman Geelani is also placed under house arrest. “The police have turned the Hyderpora residence of Geelani into a garrison. Nobody from outside was allowed to meet Geelani Saahab,” said the spokesman.
Geelani’s associates such as party general secretary Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai and Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akbar were also placed under house arrest.
“The police and the army in Sopore, Kupwara, Handwara, Shopian etc are calling the youths and Tehreek-e-Hurriyat activists to different police stations and army camps,” alleged the spokesman.
“The proposed march in Sopore was a peaceful initiative by the leaders and aimed at establishing a sense of security among the people of Sopore and to send an open message to the killers,” said the spokesman.
It asked the people to make the Friday programme a success. JKLF chairman Malik has already been detained by the police. A senior police official on the condition of anonymity said the authorities had decided to impose curfew-like restrictions in parts of Srinagar, particularly sensitive six police stations in the old city.
The authorities have decided not to allow any protest march. Sopore in north Kashmir remains on the boil after unidentified gunmen killed six people, including former militants and separatist supporters. Two attacks were also carried out to scuttle communication network in north Kashmir. Both security agencies and militants blamed each other for the killings.