SRINAGAR: Ahead of the upcoming local bodies’ elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the government has started a fresh crackdown on separatists, detaining several activists and leaders under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA).
Sources in the Hurriyat Conference said that at least five separatist activists have been arrested in the past few days, while raids have been conducted at almost a dozen places to make more arrests.
Authorities have also started an e-crackdown on social media accounts of separatist groups. The Facebook pages of Jammu Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) and of its chairperson, Shabir Shah, have been blocked.
Hurriyat (G) spokesperson GM Gulzar told Kashmir Reader that the authorities have detained several of their leaders and slapped them with PSA. “They have been shifted to Jammu jails,” he said.
Among those who have been detained under PSA are Farooq Ahmad Shah, Feroze Khan, Ramzan Sheikh and Muhammad Amin. Amin, a resident of Kulgam, works as a cook in the Hurriyat (G) office, his family said.
Feroz Ahmad Khan, according to police sources, is affiliated with JK Muslim League whose chief Masarat Alam Bhat is undergoing detention since 2010 under PSA. Khan’s family sources told Kashmir Reader that he had been living along with his wife and children in Khanyar area of Srinagar where he used to sell blankets and second-hand clothes.
Another activist, Umer Adil Dar, was slapped with PSA last month.
Sources in Shabir Shah’s DFP said that the Facebook page of their chairperson has been blocked. Shah is undergoing detention at Tihar Jail in New Delhi in a “terror funding case”.
The sources said that DFP’s telephone connections and website (www.shabirshah.com) have also been snapped or blocked since the day Shah was arrested by the National Investigation agency on July 25, 2017.
“Earlier, the Facebook pages and Twitter accounts of the party were blocked. The fixed line phone connections were also discontinued. This week, the authorities have blocked Shah saab’s Facebook page,” they said. Police sources said that they are keeping close vigil on the activities of separatists and are arresting them only when “they become a threat to law and order”.
“We arrest the separatists only if they become threat to the law and order,” a police officer told Kashmir Reader, speaking on the condition of anonymity.