Srinagar, Feb 23: Spontaneous protests and shutdown was observed in parts of Kashmir against the detention of
hundreds of Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) and Hurriyat leaders during dozens of nocturnal raids. National Conference too took out a protest march from the party headquarters against the harassment to Kashmiris in various Indian states.
They were shouting slogans against the attacks on Kashmiris.
The march was led by party’s General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar, who said that Kashmiris were being targeted across the country.
“The harassment to Kashmiris seems to be a part of political conspiracy,” he said.
“They don’t treat us as citizens of India. Is it being done to help some win the elections as Jammu and Kashmir is the only Muslim-majority state in the country?” he asked.
He claimed that Centre can’t suppress the sentiments of Kashmiris.
He also criticized the government for stopping advertisements to two local dailies. He also took on the government for arresting Jamaat-e-Islami leaders.
“We might have ideological differences but government can’t suppress their voices,” he said.
The police on late night Friday also detained JKLF chief Yasin Malik.
Nearly 150 people, mainly from the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir including its chief Abdul Hamid Fayaz, were detained during the intervening night of Saturday as tension gripped the Valley ahead of a hearing by the Supreme Court on Article 35-A. Maisuma, and its adjoining areas observed a complete shutdown.
Most shops in Srinagar’s Lalchowk remained closed.
There was a heavy deployment of forces on the streets. The old city Srinagar also observed a shutdown. Clashes were witnessed in Soura, Zaldagar, and Karanagar areas of Srinagar, and south Kashmir’s Anantnag district against the detentions and harassment to Kashmiris.
In a statement, a JeI spokesman said the police and other forces launched a “mass arrest drive” during the intervening night of February 22 and 23 and arrested dozens of its central and district-level leaders.
“Those detained include Ameer Jama’at Dr Abdul Hamid Fayaz, Advocate Zahid Ali (Spokesperson), Ghulam Qadir Lone (Former Secretary General), Abdur Rouf (Ameer Zila Islamabad), Mudasir Ahmad (Ameer Tehsil Pahalgam), Abdul Salam (Dialgam), Bakhtawar Ahmad (Dialgam), Mohammad Amin Wani (Tral), Bilal Ahmad (Chadoora), Ghulam Mohammad Dar (Chak Sangran) and dozens more,” said the spokesman.
Condemning the detentions, he said the move seems a “well designed ploy and that there was something fishy when the state’s special position is listed in Supreme Court. “Article 35(A) which grants special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, is being heard within days and the way forces personnel unleashed the spree of mass arrest and detained dozens of Jama’at members prior to the hearing seems something is hatching behind the curtains,” said the spokesman, adding: “Any attempt of eroding or tempering Article 35(A) is unacceptable for people of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Interestingly, 100 companies of paramilitary forces including CRPF, ITP SSB, and BSF have been airlifted to Srinagar.
The overall security drill in Kashmir has resulted in a tremendous panic in the Valley with people trying hard to inquire about the exact situation.
Meanwhile, non-local labourers who are living and earning in Kashmir also staged a protest demonstration at Srinagar’s press enclave against the mob attacks on Kashmiris outside the valley.
They were holding placards and banners “Stop harassment of Kashmiris in India”.
The protesting non locals requested the governments of all the states to provide protection to all Kashmiris who are studying or doing their business outside the Valley.
While SMC Mayor Junaid Azim Matoo and his Deputy Sheikh Imran along with corporations also held a protests at the premises of Srinagar Municipal Corporation against any tampering with Article 35-A.