About dozen separatist leaders arrested, Shabir went underground

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Srinagar, Aug 24 (UNI) About a dozen separatist leaders, including spokesman of the breakaway Hurriyat Conference (HC) were arrested, while senior separatist leaders Shabir Ahmad Shah and Mushtaq ul-Islam went underground.

Official sources said a number of separatist leaders were taken into preventive custody.

Family members of HC spokesman Aiyaz Akbar said the Special Operation Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) raided their house at 0045 hrs last night.

Mr Akbar was later taken into custody, they added.

Sources said about a dozen others were also arrested by the SOG and CRPF during overnight raids in different parts of the valley.

Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) chief Shabir Ahmad Shah told UNI over phone from an undisclosed place that he left his Rawalpora residence at 2315 hrs last night.

He said the CRPF and SOG personnel ransacked his entire house and harassed his family members, including his mother, wife and daughter.

Mr Shah said he would not be cowed down by such repressive measures of the administration.

''Our 'Lal Chowk chalo' programme still stands. We will participate in it,'' he said and appealed to people to make the programme a grand success.

Mr Shah said a number of senior separatist leaders were arrested by the authorities to prevent them from participating in the 'Lal Chowk chalo' programme.

He alleged ''our 'Lal Chowk chalo' was a peaceful programme.

We were not being allowed to organise a peaceful rally while in Jammu , the majority community was helped by the security forces to enforce economic blockade and attack on Kashmiri drivers.'' A spokesman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) said the SOG and CRPF also raided the front office at Maisuma. However, he added Mr Malik had also gone underground.

The CRPF and SOG raided the house of another senior separatist leader Mustaq ul-Islam at Batmaloo as well. However, Mr Islam had already left for an undisclosed place.

The Coordination Committee (CC) spearheading the present agitation in Kashmir had asked the people to reach Lal Chowk tomorrow.

The CC, an alliance of both the factions of the Hurriyat Conference (HC), other separatist organisations, the Kashmir Bar Association and social and trade organisations are demanding opening of the Sriangar-Muzaffarabad road for trade, release of all detenues and withdrawal of troops and special powers to security forces in the Jammu and Kashmir.

UNI BAS ASM SBC HT1315

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