Detention drama in Kashmir ahead of NSA talks

Srinagar: Top Kashmiri Pro-freedom leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, were today put under house arrest only to be released within hours in actions that were linked to their proposed meeting with Pakistani National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz in Delhi on Sunday.

Early this morning, police put restrictions on the movement of the several pro-freedom leaders including moderate Hurriyat Chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Maulana Mohammad Abbas Ansari, Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, Shabir Ahmad Shah and Ayaz Akbar.

Government forces were deployed outside the Hydrepora residence of Geelani, the hardline Hurriyat chief who is already under house arrest. JKLF Chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik was taken into preventive custody from his Maisuma residence and lodged at police station Kothibagh.

Officials were tight lipped on the reason for the detention but there was speculation that it could have been done to give a message to Pakistan that its engagement with pro-freedom leaders was not welcome, especially at a time when their National Security Advisors are to meet.

But, in a U-turn the authorities lifted the curbs on the leaders, again without giving any reason.

“All the separatist leaders, who were detained or put under house arrest this morning, have been released,” a top police official said on the condition of anonymity.

However, Akbar, who is spokesman of Hurriyat (G) said while other leaders were released, Geelani was still under house arrest.

“We are unable to make out the purpose behind putting the leadership under house arrest and then releasing them within two hours. All we can say that it is unfortunate,” Akbar told PTI soon after his release.

Police conducted early morning raids to detain the second rung pro-freedom leaders also but they too were halted.

Pakistan High Commission in Delhi has invited Geelani for a meeting on August 24 with Aziz, who will be in the Indian capital for talks with Indian NSA Ajit Doval.

Moderate resistance leaders have also been invited for a reception being hosted by the High Commission in New Delhi for the visiting Pakistani official on August 23.

India had cancelled Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan in August last year after its envoy invited resistance leaders for consultations ahead of the meeting in Islamabad. .(PTI)