Srinagar: Two days ahead of the death anniversaries of JKLF founder Mohammad Maqbool Bhat and Mohammad Afzal Guru, police has launched a major crackdown against the JKLF, prompting the party chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik to go into hiding.
According to a JKLF spokesman, police raided the houses of many JKLF leaders and activists including the chairman on Thursday night.
On Friday, the spokesman said, police detained senior JKLF leader advocate Bashir Ahmad Bhat. Senior JKLF leaders Showkat Ahmad Bakhshi, Sheikh Khalid, Ghulam Mohammad Dar and Abdul Sattar are already in police custody.
Bhat and Guru were hanged in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail on February 11, 1984, and February 9, 2013, respectively. Both of them are buried in the jail premises, and JKLF and other Kashmiri pro-freedom groups have been demanding return of their mortal remains to Kashmir.
JKLF has already announced a 10-day programme to mark the anniversaries of Bhat and Guru.
According to the JKLF spokesman, police is searching for senior leaders of the party including Sheikh Abdul Rashid, Bashir Ahmad Kashmiri, Mohammad Haneef Dar, Mohammad Amin Jaan, Shabir Ahmad Boitengo and district president Ganderbal Bashir Ahmad Rather Boya.
He said the police raided the houses of Yasin Malik and Bashir Kashmiri several times since Thursday night. Many JKLF activists are also being called to police stations, he said, adding that the cops raided various houses in Srinagar, Baramulla, Anantnag, Ganderbal, Kulgam, Kupwara, Pulwama, and Bandipora districts.
Yasin Malik, who is scheduled to lead Lal Chowk ‘chalo’ programme announced by his party, has gone underground. Malik has “strongly condemned this police crackdown on JKLF leaders and activists and termed it as a share frustration and act of sate terrorism. (He) said that authorities by perusing this policy of terrorizing the peaceful activists and leaders and stopping us from attending condolence meetings regarding our beloved martyrs Shaheed Mohammad Maqbool Bhat and Shaheed Mohammad Afzal Guru is pushing us to the wall,” the spokesman said in a statement here.
Malik, according to the spokesman, said that despite these restrictions and crackdown, JKLF will pursue with its Lal Chowk ‘chalo’ programme which “will be held at every cost”.
Meanwhile, condolence meetings held in connection with the 10-day announced by JKLF to mark the anniversaries of Bhat and Guru were held at Budgam, Kupwara and Ganderbal districts on Thursday. The meetings were held under the presidentship of Master Mohammad Afzal, Gulzar Ahmad Pahalwan, Pir Ghulam Mohi-ud-Dn and Bashir Ahmad Boya. Terming Maqbool Bhat as a legend and ideologue, the speakers said Bhat who by his sacrifice, struggle and martyrdom “laid down strong foundations of the freedom struggle.”
“A prayer meet was also held for Bhat, Guru and all martyrs of Kashmir,” the spokesman added.
Hurriyat Conference (M) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq condemned as “fascist and cruel” the “police crackdown against pro- freedom leadership and Kashmiri youth.”
“The government is using brutal and suppressive tactics to curb the peaceful activities of pro-freedom leadership and bar people from paying tributes to the martyrs,” Mirwaiz said in statement.
Syed Ali Geelani, who heads the parallel Hurriyat faction, said the Omar Abdullah-led government was trying to please its “masters in New Delhi by cracking down on pro-freedom leaders for trying to seek the return of the mortal remains of Maqbool Bhat and Afzal Guru.”
The recently-floated Hurriyat Conference Jammu Kashmir (HCJK) also condemned the detention of its leaders after a seminar yesterday and the “arrest spree launched by police across the length and breadth of Kashmir,” terming “undemocratic and attack on the personal freedom of an individual.”