Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik arrested (Lead)

August 25th, 2008 - 1:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Aug 25 (IANS) Muhammad Yasin Malik, chairman of the pro-freedom Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), was arrested here Monday while leading a group of protesters to the city centre for a rally. Separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq were detained overnight.Malik, whose home is situated in the uptown Maisuma locality, adjacent to Lal Chowk, came out leading around 50 supporters shouting pro-freedom slogans and started marching towards Lal Chowk, where the separatists had called a massive sit-in today to internationalise the Kashmir dispute.

“We have arrested Malik and his supporters have peacefully dispersed after his arrest,” a police officer told IANS.

Geelani and the Mirwaiz were arrested from their residences in Hyderpora and Nigeen localities late Sunday to thwart the separatist march in which thousands were expected to take part Monday.

While Geelani has been removed from his home earlier too, it was the first time that Mirwaiz was whisked away from home to an unknown destination.

Until now, Mirwaiz, a moderate separatist leader, had been placed under house arrest several times.

“What you call the routine drill of keeping these gentlemen under house arrest where they freely received guests and visitors who would be shown in by armed guards provided by the government has been broken now,” an intelligence officer told IANS here.

Official sources said the decision to arrest the two leaders was taken Sunday at a high level security meeting chaired by Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra.

An indefinite curfew had been imposed across the valley since 4 a.m. Sunday. There were no reports of any serious violation of the curfew from anywhere in the valley.

The separatists had put up a massive show of strength here Friday at the Eidgah grounds in the old city area where thousands offered prayers in response to a call by separatist leaders.

The security of the Lakhanpur-Jammu-Srinagar highway has been handed over to the army, which will now remain deployed permanently on the over 400 km long stretch to ensure that it is not blockaded by protestors.

The present turmoil in the valley started against the allotment of 40 hectares of forest land to a Hindu shrine board that manages the annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath shrine in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

The land allotment was revoked later, triggering counter protests in the state’s Hindu-dominated Jammu region.

At least 40 people have been killed, mostly in firing by the police and paramilitary forces, in Jammu and Kashmir in almost three months of turmoil.

The unrest has turned into a mass separatist campaign in the valley, resurrecting demands for Kashmir’s secession from India.

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