NEW DELHI: Authorities in Kashmir barred the Hurriyat leaders from holding the funeral prayers in-absentia for three militants who were killed in a deadly encounter with security forces earlier this week near the saffron town of Pampore.

Veteran Hurriyat leader, Syed Ali Geelani, hadappealed people to assemble in Pampore today for participating in the funeral prayers in-absentia for three suspected Lashkar militants who died in the 48-hour stand-off with government forces in Sempora area on Monday.

“It is our religious obligation to offer funeral prayers to any Muslim who dies or achieves martyrdom. Restricting this process is the direct interference into the religious affairs and this government action will in no way be accepted and tolerated,” a statement by Hurriyat, quoting Geelani, said on Wednesday evening.

The Hurriyat advisory council yesterday also criticised the administration and police for “preventing the proper and suitable burial of the martyrs of the Pampore gunfight.” “Government has to be cautious in future and should not repeat these silly acts,” it said.

However, several separatist leaders were either placed under house arrest or detained at police stations on Thursday morning to prevent their participation in the funeral prayers proposed to be held at Pampore after Zuhr (afternoon) prayers.

According to a Hurriyat spokesperson, senior leader, Shabir Ahmad Shah and Hurriyat's provincial president, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, were put under house-arrest on Thursday to foil the planned march.

"The state administration also placed Personal Secretary to Hurriyat Chairman Peer Saifullah, Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akbar and Tehreek-e-Hurriyat leader Mohammad Ashraf Laya under house arrest and dozens of other Hurriyat leaders and activists have been detained or are being searched by the police,” said the spokesman.

Authorities have also imposed curfew-like restrictions in parts of south Kashmir which remain on the boil following the encounter in which a civilian, three Army commandoes, including two officers, and two CRPF jawans lost their lives.

A partial to complete shutdown is being observed in south Kashmir parts in protest against the killing of militants. Although no separatist group had issued any strike call, a spontaneous shutdown is being observed in parts of Pampore, Awantipora, Pulwama, Tral, Anantnag and other town and villages of south Kashmir districts.

The administration has made additional deployment of forces in these areas to prevent any protests which forced the closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway yesterday. Police sources said the situation remains peaceful but tense.

(Photograph by BASIT ZARGAR)