| A policeman runs while firing a teargas shell in Srinagar on Thursday at JKLF supporters demanding Malik’s release. (Reuters)
Srinagar, June 12: In the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government’s first action against a senior leader of the Hurriyat Conference, its executive member Yaseen Malik was today arrested in Anantnag district.
The arrest has disrupted a seven-day signature campaign the pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) launched yesterday in south Kashmir to “garner support for inclusion of Kashmiris in the final resolution of the problem”.
JKLF chairman Malik’s arrest follows the chief minister’s strict instructions to police to “put behind bars those released separatists who try to disrupt peace”. Only a day earlier, Mufti himself had asked separatist leaders to “continue their political activities in Kashmir”. “They can continue their political activities and we will fight them politically,” he had said.
A JKLF spokesman confirmed the arrest and said other leaders — Javed Ahmad Mir and Noor Mohammad Kalwal — who are accompanying Malik, have not yet reported back to the organisation’s headquarters. They have also been probably detained, he said.
The outfit had said yesterday the campaign would be launched simultaneously in other districts from today.
“The JKLF intends to rally as many locals as possible behind its stand for inclusion of Kashmiris in any future talks on the state,” a leader of the organisation said. “We will send the signed memorandum to most of the global players, including the US.” The spokesman said more than 9,000 signatures were collected on the first day.
The choice of south Kashmir to kickstart the campaign assumes significance as Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party had won all the Assembly seats from the two districts in the region.
Malik met thousands of people at a gathering yesterday, seeking their opinion whether they favoured active involvement of Kashmiris in the proposed dialogue between India and Pakistan.
“Kashmiris are the real victims of the conflict and unless they voice their aspirations, no one was going to come to them,” he said. “The world is of the opinion that peace would elude the region if the Kashmir (issue) remains unresolved. Even the Indian deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, who frequently dishes out war threats, is talking of peace.”
Among the other senior leaders of the organisation present yesterday were Bashir Ahmad Bhat, Shoukat Ahmad Bakshi and Nazir Ahmad.