NEW DELHI: Ahead of the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the ‘crackdown’ has begun with the police arresting more than a dozen Hurriyat leaders and activists over the past two days.

According to the police officials , the arrests are to ensure disturbance free elections.

In day long raids the police arrested almost all separatist leaders including JKLF chief Mohammad Yasin Malik, Chairman Hurriyat Conference Jammu Kashmir Shabir Shah, Chairman National Front Nayeem Ahmad Khan,Hurriyat Conference (G) spokesman Ayaz Akbar, Maulana Tari, Zaffar Akbar Bhat and Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai.

JKLF chief Yasin Malik and vice chairman advocate Bashir Ahmad Bhat Malik were arrested from their makeshift JKLF office at Abi Guzar and lodged at Kothibagh police station.

“There was a raid late last night and the police arrested Shabir Shah and Nayeem Khan in their homes. Many of our activists from other districts are being arrested too,” Zameer Ahmad Sheikh, a Hurriyat activist confirmed.

Meanwhile according to the Hurriyat leaders police are continuing the raids and have arrested many leaders from various districts as well.

Terming the elections as just a hoax and serious blow to the "so called indian democracy”, senior Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said that on the one side the Indian Government talks about freedom of expression and on the other places “all genuine voices” behind bars.

“The crackdown on genuine leadership has shown yet again that there is no democracy here but forced and illegal occupation,” the 86 year old leader said. He has spent most of the last four years under house arrest, and has been placed there again in preparation for the state elections.

Geelani said that his group's spokesperson Ayaz Akbar, and senior leader Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai too were arrested by police.

Meanwhile Moderate Hurriyat leader and cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was also placed under house arrest to prevent him from reaching out to people.

Commenting on the crackdown on Hurriyat leaders, Inspector General of Police, Abdul Gani Mir, told reporters in Srinagar that the arrests are preventive in nature and it will help to hold disturbance free elections in the state.

"No one will be allowed to disrupt elections and these arrests will send a very clear message to all those who try to intimidate people" Mir added.

Meanwhile according to sources, in coming days police will be arresting more Hurriyat activists from different parts of kashmir valley and these leaders will be kept in custody till elections are over in the state.

“It is the Election Commission of India which is very strict about any anti-poll activities. They asked us to enforce the warrants and take people into preventive detention ahead of the polls to ensure a smooth election,” said a police official wishing not to be named.

The police action on Hurriyat leaders comes ahead of Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir beginning November 25. Most of the leaders have appealed to the people to boycott the polls and asked for plebiscite to be held as per the UN resolutions. Floods and the onset of severe winter by the time will also effectively prevent voting in many parts of the state.