Srinagar: Counterinsurgency police on Wednesday raided the headquarters of Jamaat-e-Islami, one of the most influential politico-religious organisations in Jammu and Kashmir, and arrested its spokesman and head of political bureau Zahid Ali Lone.
Last week, the state police chief summoned Jamaat chief Ghulam Muhammad Bhat to his office after police shot with pellets an 80-year-old Jamaat leader, Abdul Qayoom Bhat, and his wife at Buchoo-Kamla village in south Kashmir’s Tral pocket, critically injuring the elderly couple.
Jamaat sharply reacted to the police raid, calling it unjustified and undemocratic.
Sources said that a contingent of police raided the Jamaat headquarters at Baranpathar in Batamaloo, which is under strict curfew for several days and the area where anti-India protests routinely occur. The Jamaat headquarters is located in the vicinity of the police control room.
“Police and SOG (special operations group) personnel raided Jamaat headquarters at about 11:30am. The government forces first cordoned off the building, then barged in. They searched and asked for Jamaat leaders,” a statement issued by the organisation said.
A worker at the Jamaat headquarters said that the cops searched every room of the spacious building where most of the rooms were unattended, as office-bearers are not able to come due to the situation of unrest in Kashmir.
Police later arrested Zahid Ali, an advocate from Pampore, who heads the political bureau of the organisation and issues statements to the press. Ali had earlier been detained at Nowgam on his way to Pulwama but was later released.
The Jamaat has accused the PDP-BJP coalition government of launching a massive crackdown against the organisation’s members and sympathisers. Many members have gone into hiding to avoid arrest. Sources said that police and intelligence agencies are describing the Jamaat cadre and leadership as the engine behind the current anti-India uprising.
Sources said that police were looking for young Jamaat scholar Mujahid Shabir Falahi when they raided his house at Buchoo-Kamla village in Tral last week. While Falahi was not present, the government forces picked up his younger brother Noor Muhammad. When his father Abdul Qayoom Bhat raised objection to the arrest, furious policemen fired pellet guns that injured Bhat and his wife. Bhat was admitted to SMHS hospital where he underwent surgery in his perforated intestines.
Another senior Jamaat activist, Muhammad Yousuf Sheikh, 75, who led several protest rallies in north Kashmir’s Sopore was arrested recently. The authorities have slapped Public Safety Act (PSA) on him. The draconian act allows the authorities to detain any person without trial for at least one year.