Hurriyat leaders released from house arrest, to meet Pak NSA

  • Toufiq Rashid, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Aug 20, 2015 23:57 IST
A combination photo of Kashmiri separatist leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik, Syed Ali Shah Geelani. (Agencies)

Just hours after they were placed under house arrest, Kashmiri separatist leaders were on Thursday released by authorities in Srinagar indicating a confused response to their proposed meeting with Pakistan's national security adviser Sartaj Aziz.

In the morning, hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and leaders of the moderate faction Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Moulvi Abbas Ansari and JKLF leader Yasin Malik were placed under house arrest .

While leaders of both factions of Hurriyat were released in two hours, hardline separatist Geelani remains under house detention as his movements are generally restricted in the valley.

"Whether Geelani sahib will be allowed to travel to Delhi remains to be seen,'' said Hurriyat(G) spokesperson Ayaz Akbar.

The house arrest-- and subsequent release -- came three days ahead of their meeting with Pakistan's NSA Sartaj Aziz when he visits India for talks. Pakistan High Commission had invited separatist leaders for meeting with Aziz during his stay in Delhi.

While Geelani and Mirwaiz have accepted the invitation, JKLF chief Yasin Malik said his party is yet to take a final call.

According to sources, Mirwaiz Umar will lead a high level delegation for the reception followed by the meeting on August 23, while Geelani is likely to travel on August 24.

During the house arrest, authorities put up stop gates and deployed police personnel outside the houses before informing the separatist leaders not to step out.

Police sources told Hindustan Times that the steps were taken to prevent the separatists from going to Delhi to meet Sartaj Aziz. The restrictions were however lifted after two hours.

Slamming the flipflop over the arrests former chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, "Why? No absence of coordination - centre say arrest so arrested, centre says release so released.Perfect coordination."

Abdullah hit out at his successor Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and the Centre with a vengeance, even accusing the governments of India and Pakistan of trying to sabotage the NSA talks on August 23-24.

In a provocative act the Pakistan High Commission had on Wednesday called hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani for a meeting with Aziz and invited moderate separatist Kashmiri leaders including its chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq for a reception on August 23.

India immediately warned against such a meeting, saying "appropriate action" will be taken.

Last July, India called off talks with Pakistan because Kashmiri separatists were invited before a meeting of foreign secretaries.

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