HURRIYAT LEADERS DETAINED TO FOIL MEETING WITH SARTAJ AZIZ
Kashmiri Leaders: Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Shabir Shah
SRINAGAR: Authorities in Kashmir Thursday detained top Hurriyat leaders ahead of their meeting with Pakistan's National Security Advisor, Sartaj Aziz, in New Delhi onAugust 23.
A spokesperson of veteran Hurriyat leader, Syed Ali Geelani, who is under detention since April 15, said extra police personnel were deployed outside his Srinagar home on Thursday morning and raids were carried out at the residences of other Hurriyat leaders.
"Many of our top leader including General Secretary, Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, Mohammad Altaf Shah and myself have been detained. It looks like the government doesn't want our meeting with Sartaj Aziz to take place," Ayaz Akbar, Geelani's spokesperson, told The Citizen.
Pakistan's high commissioner in New Delhi, Abdul Basit, had invited Geelani, moderate Hurriyat chairman and Kashmir's top cleric, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, JKLF chief, Mohammad Yasin Malik along with several Hurriyat leaders for a meeting with Aziz on August 23.
The meeting is scheduled to take place ahead of the talks between Aziz and India's National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, for improving the bilateral relations between the two countries.
Although the invitation to separatists by Pakistan has not gone down well with the Indian establishment with the opposition Congress criticising the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, sources said the NSA-level talks will go ahead as per schedule.
Shahid-ul-Islam, the political advisor of Mirwaiz, said police raided houses of several moderate Hurriyat leaders Thursday morning during which Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Moulana Abbas Ansari were placed under house arrest.
"Police also raided my home in Sanat Nagar but I had left for work. This is an attempt to prevent us from meeting Sartaj Aziz,” said Islam.
Police sources said JKLF chief Yasin Malik was arrested from his Maisuma home on Thursday morning and he has been lodged at Kothi Bagh police station.
"Police told me clearly that the government will not allow us to meet Sartaj Aziz in New Delhi. Several JKLF leaders including Showkat Ahmad Bakshi and Noor Mohammad have also been arrested," Malik said.
The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi Wednesday justified its invitation to Kashmiri separatist leaders to meet Aziz, saying such meetings are not "unprecedented".
"We have been meeting and talking to them (Kashmiri leaders). There is nothing unprecedented about it. I don't understand why there is so much hype," Manzoor Ali Memon, Counsellor (Press) in Pakistan High Commission, told PTI.