J&K Govt Clamps Down On Separatists Ahead Of Polls

14 November 2008
The Times of India

Srinagar: Continuing with the crackdown on separatists, the Jammu & Kashmir government on Friday placed several Hurriyat Conference leaders under house arrest, in an attempt to prevent yet another anti-election march to Bandipora in north Kashmir. Bandipora goes to polls in the first phase of the staggered process, beginning November 17. Hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, currently in New Delhi, was to address an anti-election rally in Srinagar but he couldn’t make it due to inclement weather which disrupted air traffic to Srinagar. ‘‘I was planning to reach Srinagar and straightway head to TRC ground in Srinagar to address a rally after Friday prayers. But due to the cancellation of the flights, I couldn’t fly to Srinagar,’’ Geelnai told TOI from Delhi. He said he was determined to launch an anti-poll campaign. A source said as soon as Geelani reached Delhi airport, a contingent of the J&K police surrounded him. ‘‘They were perhaps planning to detain him there and take him to Srinagar. Even as the flight was cancelled, cops followed him to his Malviya Nagar residence,’’ a family source said. The government began clamping down on separatists after the unprecedented outpouring of ‘azadi’ sentiment following the Amarnath agitation. Subsequent pro-azadi rallies drew huge crowds. Moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who was planning to lead the Bandipora march, said he was placed under house arrest on Thursday. ‘‘I wasn’t even allowed to offer Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid,’’ he said.