Kashmiri leaders face arrest as Indian minister visits


The top resistance leadership in Kashmir was arrested by Indian authorities on Saturday, hours before a visit by Home Minister Rajnath Singh in the disputed region.

Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani were put under house arrest, while Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Yasin Malik was imprisoned in the Central Jail in Srinagar.

The resistance leaders had planned a protest outside the National Investigation Agency's headquarters in capital New Delhi.

The three leaders, whose parties together form the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), had said on Wednesday that they would march to New Delhi, and voluntarily give themselves for arrest -- to protest the harassment of resistance leaders by the investigation agency.

In July, the investigation agency had arrested seven people including Shahid-ul-Islam, the spokesman for Farooq, and Altaf Shah, son-in-law of Geelani.

Following the announcement, Mirwaiz was put under house arrest on Thursday. Malik too was arrested on Thursday, and then released on Friday evening, only to be re-arrested on early Saturday morning.

Geelani has been under house arrest for the last several months.

Singh had said on Friday, that he was coming to Kashmir with an open mind, and wanted to meet everyone.

However, Kashmiri leaders maintain that his promises are a farce.

"Singh's visit and his statements are a continuation of the farce India maintains in Kashmir. He comes saying he is open to talking and then arrests all of the resistance leadership and they put people under curfew. Who will he talk to and talk about what?" Mirwaiz Umar told Anadolu Agency.

"The Indian Home Minister will again talk about money and packages and unemployment and continue their lies while they actually keep killing Kashmiri people."

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

The two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.

Kashmiri resistance groups in Jammu-Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989. India maintains more than half a million troops in the disputed region.

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