Restrictions on Separatists Leaders in Kashmir

Srinagar, Aug 6: Most separatist leaders continued to remain under house arrest for the second consecutive day on Saturday while the authorities foiled press conference of senior separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani by not allowing the media to enter his residence.

“Geelani has been under house arrest since July 27 ever since he returned from Delhi. This is an undemocratic step and we condemn it. The government is denying us the democratic space to carry out political activities and this could have serious repercussions,” said his close aide Ayaz Akbar.

Meanwhile, moderate separatist leader and cleric Mirwaz Umar Farooq, Shabir Shah, Nayeem Khan and other separatist leaders also continued to remain under house arrest at their respective residences.

The separatists were placed under house arrest after a Sopore youth Nazim Rashid Shalla died in police custody. Geelani, Mirwaiz and other separatist leaders had planned to visit the Sopore residence of the deceased youth to express solidarity with the bereaved family. However, apprehending trouble, authorities have imposed restrictions on their movement.

Meanwhile, authorities prevented senior separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani from addressing a press conference at his Hyderpora residence, where he is under house arrest.

The media, who had gone to his residence this morning to cover the press conference, were not allowed to enter into the house by a large posse of policemen deployed there. “We have been directed by our officials not to let anyone enter in,” a policeman posted at Geelani’s residence told the media.

Geelani’s spokesman criticized the Government for not allowing Geelani to address a press conference. “We had sought permission from authorities to allow us to observe foundation day of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat on August 7 at Municipal Park, Srinagar. However, our request was turned down. Geelani Sahib was scheduled to address a press conference on this very issue today but police scuttled the move,” he said and termed government’s action as “unwarranted”.

Meanwhile, shutdown was observed in some parts of old city on Saturday to protest the “highhandedness of police” and arrest of 13 youth. The clashes also broke out between angry and cops in some pockets.

Complete shutdown was observed in Nowhatta, Gojwara, Rajouri Kadal, Saraf Kadal, Bohri Kadal and adjoining areas today to protest against yesterday’s police action. The shops and business establishments remained closed while the vehicular traffic was off the roads.

After clashes yesterday, police and paramilitary men had beaten shopkeepers and arrested more than dozen youth.

The locals alleged that police and CRPF men barged into residential houses and shops after clashes yesterday and smashed the goods. “The cops also damaged the windowpanes of houses and vehicles parked in the area. Several shopkeepers and passersby were beaten mercilessly. More than 12 youth were arrested,” they alleged.

People in large numbers took to roads at Nowhatta, Rajouri Kadal, Saraf Kadal, Gojawara and its adjoining areas this morning and staged demonstrations against what they termed the highhandedness of police and paramilitary forces.

The protestors blocked road at Gojwara and Nowhatta and attempted to stage pro-freedom demonstrations. Chanting pro-freedom, pro-Islamic and anti-India demonstrations, the protestors were demanding release of youth and action against the police and CRPF men for ransacking household goods and beating the shopkeepers and passersby.

The cops, who were deployed in strength in the area, intercepted the protestors. The police and CRPF men lobbed tear smoke shells and resorted to heavy baton charge to disperse the slogan shouting youth. The protestors retaliated by hurling bricks and stones towards the cops. The clashes continued throughout the day.

The authorities had to divert traffic of the area from other routes.

A police officer admitted that police arrested 13 youth after stone pelting incident in Jamia Masjid and adjoining areas. “We caught them while they were pelting stones on the cops,” he said.

He said barring some minor incidents, the situation remained normal in old city. “The traffic also plied normally on roads,” he claimed.