Separatist leader Shabir Shah arrested in Srinagar

August 29th, 2008 - 6:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Aug 29 (IANS) After evading police for several days, Jammu and Kashmir’s Hurriyat leader Shabir Ahmad Shah was arrested here Friday as the crackdown continued on separatist leaders in the valley. Shah, one of the most senior leaders of the moderate Hurriyat group led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, had gone underground to avoid authorities who Sunday began detaining senior separatist leaders to prevent them from participating in a march.

“Shah was arrested in the uptown Rawalpora residential locality of the city today afternoon,” a senior police officer said here.

Other leaders, including hardline Hurriyat Conference’s Syed Ali Geelani as well as the Mirwaiz, Yasin Malik of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and Asiya Andrabi who heads the women’s separatist group Dukhtaran-e-Milat, have also been arrested.

The Mirwaiz, Geelani and Malik have not been booked formally and their arrest is being described as “preventive detention”. However, Asiya Andrabi and some others have been booked under the harsh Public Safety Act (PSA) which empowers the authorities to detain persons without trial for a period of two years.

Jammu and Kashmir has been witnessing widespread violence for more than three months following a dispute over 40 hectares of forest land being allotted to the Amarnath shrine board. The land transfer was later cancelled.

When the land allotment decision was reversed July 1 following a Muslim backlash in the valley, Hindus in the Jammu region staged demonstrations, blocking the movement of goods to the valley for some days.

More than 47 people have died, mostly in police and paramilitary firing, in the turmoil that has been stoked both by separatist leaders in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley and Hindu groups in Jammu region.

The unrest has also breathed life into the separatist movement in Kashmir which witnessed huge rallies in the last fortnight.

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