Srinagar: In a major clampdown, the police have arrested more than a thousand people from various parts of the Valley to ensure what it calls smooth and peaceful conduct of the Assembly polls slated to begin next week.
Among the arrested persons are pro-freedom leaders and their supporters, alleged stone pelters and former militants.
The arrested people had been identified and listed by various security agencies, including the CID wing of the police, prior to the announcement of the five-phase polls by the Election Commission of India last month.
Sources said that among the arrested persons are 321 “trouble makers”, a euphemism for the youth the state suspects might actively campaign against the elections, 216 alleged stone pelters, 130 former militants, 59 “over ground workers”, 12 Muslim League activists, 60 JKLF activists and 83 Hurriyat Conference (Geelani) supporters.
The prominent pro-freedom leaders who have been detained are JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik, Nayeem Ahmad Khan and Shabir Ahmad Shah.
Chairmen of the two Hurriyat factions, Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, have been placed under house arrest by the officials to prevent them from carrying out the poll-boycott campaign.
However, Geelani said more than 2,000 pro-freedom leaders and supporters have been arrested across the Valley.
“Besides leaders, 40-50 supporters of our amalgam have been arrested from every district of the Valley. From our office boy to district presidents, everyone has been arrested and confined to illegal imprisonment. Even our translator has been arrested and lodged at Kupwara jail,” Geelani’s personal secretary told Kashmir Reader.
“A father is arrested if the son is wanted; a brother is arrested if another brother is wanted. The police are at war with our party. In the garb of so-called elections, our party leaders and supporters are being victimised,” he said.
“These are not elections but a military operation,” said Geelani, who has been under house arrest at his Hyderpora residence for most part of the year.
He said the elections and the arrests of workers have hit the relief work being carried out by the conglomerate after the floods.
Meanwhile, five more people were arrested in twin districts of Baramulla and Ganderbal by police since Wednesday evening, reports said.
Mudasir Khalid Bhat, Zahid-ul-Islam Bhat and Naushad Bashir Bhat, were arrested by a police in a raid in Bomai village of Sopore.
In Ganderbal, two JKLF activists identified as Ashiq Hussain Chilla of Habba Kadal and Mukhtar Ahmad Wani of Kurak, Ganderbal, were arrested and posters calling for boycott were seized from them.
Inspector General of Police Kashmir, Abdul Gani Mir, told Kashmir Reader that preventive detentions have been made to avoid any trouble during the forthcoming elections.
“All of the people taken in preventive detention will be set free once the judicial magistrate is satisfied that there can be no breach of peace,” Mir said.