SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir government has withdrawn security cover of prominent separatist leaders and mainstream players, including the veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani and former IAS officer Shah Faesal.

While the security cover of the Hurriyat leaders has been withdrawn entirely, it has been downgraded for some mainstream political activists and leaders, according to an official handout issued late last night.

The state’s information department handout said the security of 18 Hurriyat leaders in the state and 155 “political persons and activists” has been either withdrawn or downgraded following a fresh “threat assessment” which showed “they did not require the security provided to them.”

“It was felt that providing security to these separatist leaders is a wastage of scarce state resources which could be better utilised elsewhere. Through this, over 1000 police personnel and over 100 vehicles are freed to do regular police work,” the handout reads.

Prominent among the separatists leaders whose security has been withdrawn include Syed Geelani, Aga Syed Mosvi, Maulvi Abbas Ansari, JKLF chief Yasin Malik, Saleem Geelani, Shahid ul Islam, Zaffar Akbar Bhat, Nayeem Ahmed Khan, Mukhtar Ahmad Waza, Farooq Ahmed Kichloo, Masroor Abbas Ansari, Aga Syed Abul Hussain, Abdul Gani Shah and Mohd Musadiq Bhat.

This is in addition the four separatists including moderate Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, moderate Hurriyat leaders Abdul Ghani Bhat and Bilal Lone, and another separatist whose security was withdrawn on Sunday.

“In addition, the security of 155 political persons and activists, who did not require the security provided to them based on their threat assessment and their activities, was also withdrawn,” the spokesperson said.

This includes Shah Faesal, the former IAS officer who resigned from the civil service to jump into the political arena and PDP youth president Waheed Para.

The decision comes in the backdrop of a suicide bomber ramming his car into a CRPF convoy on Srinagar-Jammu highway, killing at least 49 paramilitary men and sparking a global outrage last week. Many, including the ruling BJP leaders, had asked the Centre to end the “perks” of New Delhi to separatists.

However, the Hurriyat leaders have said they had never asked the state or the central government for security cover. A close aide of Geelani, who didn’t want to be named, said security men were deployed by the government to control the activities of the Hurriyat hawk.

“Rather than security, they (security forces) used to monitor the people who used to come and meet Geelani saheb. He has never asked for any security, neither did the security men accompany him. So I fail to understand why they are making an issue out of it,” he said.

(Cover Photo Basit Zargar)