Outcry over separatist Masarat Alam's imprisonment under the Public Safety Act (PSA) grows in Kashmir as the government clampdown saw separatists gunning for once pro-dialogue chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
"Sayeed's slogans of 'battle of ideas' and 'Goli Nahi Boli' proved hoax like shifting detainees from outside to the Valley. Alam's arrest proves decisions come from Nagpur. He is choking all political spaces," alleged 84-year-old hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani.
Supporters of Geelani and Alam, fast emerging as natural successor in the hardline camp, took to the streets in Srinagar's Habbakadal area after Friday prayers. They protested the jailing of Alam, whose participation in a rally on April 15 raked up controversy after pro-Pakistan slogans and pro-Pakistan flags were raised.
Around six top separatist leaders, including Shabir Shah, Geelani and Ashraf Sehrai, were placed under house arrest to contain street protests.
Separatists have called for a shutdown on Saturday, second in the last two weeks, over the government action against Alam.
CM Sayeed, also patron of PDP, is for dialogue with separatists. It took his party two months to chalk out alliance of agenda with the PDP to incorporate initiation of dialogue process with stakeholders, including Hurriyat.
However, those efforts are bound not to yield results for the time being. Even moderate leaders are gunning for Sayeed, accusing him of backtracking from his words under pressure from New Delhi.
"PDP's self-rule proved hoax as it's hand in glove with anti-Muslim parties like RSS, behind blackmailing Kashmir migrant Pandits," said moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who led a procession in central Kashmir's Budgam district on Friday. Farooq once again hinted at unification efforts saying "goal of all separatist groups is one."
Another moderate leader, Yasin Malik of the JKLF, accused Sayeed of "budging before the pressure of his masters in Delhi and Nagpur."
"These kind of illegal detentions and arrests are glaring examples of undemocratic behaviour in J-K," said Malik.
Pakistan-based separatist leader Muhammad Farooq Rehmani also condemned the arrest. "European Union should take cognizance of the worsening political and human rights conditions in J-K," said Rehmani.
"India's designs against the Kashmiris would plunge the sub-continent into chaos of war," he warned.
Meanwhile, former Kashmir Committee head Ram Jethmalani's Kashmir visit has fuelled speculations of fresh engagement with separatists. According to media reports, he with Madhu Purnima Kishwar, is visiting the Valley on May 8.
The Kashmir Committee, constituted in 2002 by the National Democratic Alliance, has held a few rounds of dialogue with separatists in the past.