About two dozen separatist leaders arrested in Kashmir

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Srinagar, Jul 4 (UNI) About two dozen senior separatist leaders, including Shabir Ahmad Shah and Mohammad Ashraf Sahrayee, were today arrested when they were leading a procession near Hazratbal after Friday prayers.

Mr Shah and Mr Sahrayee were reportedly injured in police lathicharge before their arrest, official sources said.

They said Mr Shah, Mr Sahrayee and other senior separatist leaders gave slip to police and reached Hazratbal shrine this afternoon to participate in the ''Hazratbal chalo'' call given by Hurriyat Conference Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who is under house arrest for past two days.

After the Shah and Sahrayee addressed a gathering of thousands of people at holy shrine, they were taken in the procession.

However, when the procession reached near the University of Kashmir gate, police swung into action and stopped them from moving towards the main road.

Police later resorted to lathicharge and bundled Mr Shah, Mr Sahrayee, General Mosa, Mohammad Shafi Lone and about 20 others into police vehicles.

Shah and Sahrayee were injured, a HC spokesman Aiyaz Akbar told UNI.

Describing the police action unjustified, Mr Akbar said it was a peaceful procession.

The Friday prayers and address of separatist leaders was held peacefully, he said, adding attack on Shah and Sahrayee was pre- planned.

A group of Muslim Khawateen Markaz (MKM) also joined the procession raising pro-freedom and religious slogans.

Mr Geelani has given the ''Hazratbal chalo call'' to offer special prayers to thank God for the victory in the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB)-land issue.

UNI BAS YSS SW RN1623

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