Srinagar: Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir SJM Gillani has told Kashmir Reader that the police will take all necessary steps, including the arrest of pro-freedom leaders and activists, to ensure that the Lok Sabha by-elections in Srinagar and Anantnag are conducted in free and fair manner. When asked if the police will take pro-freedom leaders in custody ahead of the by-polls, Gillani said, “We are ready to take all preventive measures to create a fair atmosphere for the by-polls.”
Pro-freedom groups have already started protesting what they call the police crackdown against their election boycott campaign.
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik was on Saturday arrested and put in Central Jail Srinagar, a day after the united pro-freedom leadership launched its election boycott campaign.
Currently under house arrest himself, Hurriyat (M) spokesperson Shahid ul Islam said that the authorities have also confined leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mukhtar Ahmad to their homes ahead of the elections.
“All the activists and party members who were arrested during the civil uprising were released earlier in January,” he said of the members of Hurriyat (M).
The head of the human rights wing of Hurriyat (M), Manan Bukhari, said, “No arrests have been made recently and there are no activists and other leaders currently under arrest or detained under Public Safety Act (PSA).”
However, according to Ayaz Akbar, the spokesperson of the Syed Geelani-led Hurriyat (G), almost all the top leadership of the pro-freedom conglomerate is under house arrest, including its chairman Syed Ali Geelani and general Secretary Shabir Shah.
Akbar has also been put under house arrest.
“There are more than 200 activists and leaders in the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH) lodged under PSA in different jails across the state,” Akbar said.
JKLF’s Altaf Khan told Reader that 24 party members or activists are in prison, including four district heads. “There are 15 activists currently in detention and 8 of our activists are lodged in jail under PSA (Public Safety Act), from even before the election dates were announced,” Khan said.
Altaf Shah, a member of the Geelani-led Hurriyat’s executive council, told Reader that the octogenarian chairman has directed to chalk out “modalities” of the election boycott campaign. “We were supposed to deliberate over the issue but the meeting could not be held due to restrictions,” he said.