Srinagar, Oct 7: Just a week before Eid-ul-fitre the Jammu and Kashmir government has released senior separatist leader Bilal Sidiqui after 13 years of detention.
Bilal, who was among the first to cross over to Pakistan in the late eighties to receive arms training, was also one of the senior members of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).
He was arrested by the Delhi police in November 1996, immediately after the first assembly elections were held in Jammu and Kashmir after six years of governors rule following the resignation by Dr Farooq Abdullah led National Conference (NC) government in protest against the appointment of Jagmohan as governor of the state in 1989. No elections were held in the state due to militancy.
The NC won the 1996 elections, four years after the JKLF announced a ceasefire and decided to launch a non-violent ''freedom'' struggle.
Bilal was later detained in Delhi's Tihar jail before being shifted to the central jail here in 2002 where he was booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) for two years.
However, after completing his term under the PSA, he was not released last year.
Chairman of the breakaway Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and JKLF (Amanullah) chairman in Kashmir, Javid Ahmad Mir have hailed the release of Bilal, who also served three years jail term in 1988.