The Centre has sent 100 companies comprising about 10,000 paramilitary personnel to Kashmir amid a major crackdown on separatists and miscreants. Hurriyat leader Yasin Malik and several activists of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami have been already taken into custody. The move appears to have been taken to ensure Kashmir security as the crackdown comes two days before the expected hearing of the controversial Article 35A in the Supreme Court on Monday.
The Centre has rushed 45 companies of CRPF, 35 companies of BSF and 10 companies each of ITBP and SSB to Srinagar to assist the authorities in maintaining law and order.
Former chief minister and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, separatists and the Peoples Conference chief Sajad Lone have criticised the government for arresting the Hurriyat and Jamaat activists.
Criticising the government, Mehbooba tweeted: “You can imprison a person but not his ideas.”
Referring to the arrests, Sajad Lone, who is reportedly being backed by the BJP, tweeted: “This is a tried tested and failed model. Please desist from it. It won’t work. Things will worsen.”
Criticising the crackdown, separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq warned: “Force and intimidation will only worsen the situation.”
Yasin Malik was picked up by the police on Friday night from his residence in the Maisoma area in the heart of Srinagar.
Among those detained include Amir (chief) of the Jamaat-e-Islami Abdul Hamid Fayaz, its spokesperson Zahid Ali and former and incumbent officer-bearers Ghulam Qadir Lone, Abdur Rouf, Mudasir Ahmed, Abdul Salam, Bakhtawar Ahmed, Muhammad Hayat, Bilal Ahmad, Ghulam Mohammad Dar and many others.
The crackdown was continuing against separatists and more arrests were likely during the day. The arrests come around a week after the deadly Pulwama terror attack in which 44 CRPF personnel travelling in a convoy were killed.
Shops in some areas of Srinagar were shut in view of the arrests of separatists and Jamaat activists. Minor clashes were reported in downtown Nowhatta area amid rumours that Article 35A might be scrapped.
The state government had recently withdrawn the security cover of several separatists and also downgraded the security of some politicians. The PDP had criticised the step.
It is learnt that the government is strengthening deployment of security forces to thwart attempts of terrorists and fundamentalists to disrupt the ensuing Lok Sabha election process. A team of the Election Commission of India is arriving here on 4 March to review whether the situation is ripe to simultaneously hold state Assembly elections.