Crackdown against separatists continues, 70 more arrested

Strike disrupts life

Fayaz Bukhari
SRINAGAR, Feb 24: Security forces last night continued crackdown against the leaders and activists of separatists mostly Jamat-e-Islami (JeI) and arrested over 70 of them while a strike called by separatists against the crackdown disrupted life in Kashmir.
The raids were conducted last night across Kashmir, mostly in South Kashmir and Central Kashmir during which at least 70 separatists mostly JeI members were arrested.
The raids were conducted during the night and those who were not present in their houses were asked to report to the Police Stations in the morning. At least 18 were arrested from South Kashmir district of Shopian only. Raids were also conducted in Budgam district which is relatively peaceful and over two dozens JeI leaders and activists were rounded up.
At least 200 separatists especially leaders and members of JeI including its chief Abdul Hamid Fayaz were rounded up till yesterday. So far over 300 people including Over Ground Workers of militant organization were arrested after the CRPF convoy attack on February 14 in Pulwama on National Highway, in one of the major crackdown in recent years.
Authorities placed Muslim Conference President and former chairman of Hurriyat Conference Professor Abdul Ghani Butt under house arrest.
A spokesman of the MC said a posse of policemen arrived at the residence-cum-office of the professor and asked him to stay indoors and not venture outside. The spokesman strongly condemned the crackdown against separatists and other religious leaders.
A complete shutdown was today observed across the Valley while as restrictions were imposed in parts of Srinagar to thwart any protest against the arrests of Jamaat and Hurriyat leaders.
The shutdown was called by Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to protest against the crackdown and apprehension about tinkering with Article 35 A of the constitution.
Shops, business establishments and petrol pumps were closed while as traffic was also off the roads throughout the day.
Authorities had imposed restrictions in Srinagar areas falling under the jurisdiction of Khanyar, M R Gunj, Rainawari, Nowhatta and Safa Kadal police stations.
A large contingent of police and paramilitary troopers were deployed in Srinagar areas today. The mobile internet speed was also reduced to 2G while as train services were suspended as security reasons.