Buckling under pressure from alliance partner BJP, the PDP-led government in Jammu and Kashmir arrested Masarat Alam Bhat in connection...
Violence today broke out on the streets of Srinagar over the killing of two youths in Tral on a day separatist leader Masarat Alam Bhat was arrested on sedition charges, with protesters burning the national flag and fighting pitched battles with security forces.
The Nowhatta area of the winter capital resembled a battle zone as masked protesters burnt the tricolour and clashed with security forces resulting in injuries to about a dozen people, including two policemen, official sources said.
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The protesters were also seen hurling stones at the police which retaliated, bursting teargas shells and using force to disperse the violent crowds.
Moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq accused the army of killing youths after labelling them terrorists. “There is no arrest, no FIR. The government has to put an end to state terrorism,” he said.
Reports of stone-pelting were also received from Tral and adjoining areas as part of a march call given by hardline Hurriyat faction led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani. The moderate faction of the Hurriyat led by Farooq also staged its own protest.
Geelani has given a strike call throughout the Valley tomorrow against the killings and today’s police action.
Earlier in the day, Bhat, being seen as a possible successor to Geelani, was arrested following outrage over raising of pro-Pakistan slogans and flags at a rally on Wednesday where the two were present. Both leaders were placed under house arrest here late last night.
The 45-year-old hardliner was arrested from his home in Habbakadal area of the city this morning, apparently after the Centre pushed for it.
As the Centre came under attack for the situation in the state ruled by PDP-BJP coalition, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh asserted India’s unity and integrity were “inviolable” and “nobody will be allowed to break it”.
“Anybody found engaging in anti-national activities will not be spared or forgiven,” he told a press conference near Kanpur.
Singh had on Wednesday night called up Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed asking him to take “immediate and stringent” action against law breakers in the wake of a rally where pro-Pakistan slogans were raised and flags of that country waved at a welcome ceremony for Geelani.
An FIR was registered against Geelani, Bhat and other separatists leaders for “provocative activities” under various sections of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and other penal laws.
The arrest came hours ahead of Hurriyat’s planned march to Tral area of Pulwama district where two youths had been killed in an army operation. Locals have alleged the two were killed in a staged encounter, while the army insisted they were militants shot down in a gunbattle.