Geelani, Omar among 100 arrested;others underground in Kashmir

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Srinagar, Aug 25 (UNI) Chairmen of both the factions of the Hurriyat Conference (HC) were arrested late last night while other senior separatist leaders are still underground in the Kashmir valley.

About 100 second rank and other separatist leaders were also taken into custody during the last 24 hours to prevent them from participating in the ''Lal Chowk'' march-- call for which was given by the Coordination Committee (CC)-- spearheading the present agitation in the valley.

Official sources said a large number of security forces cordoned off the residence of breakaway HC chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani at 0130 hrs.

Later, Mr Geelani along with some supporters, who were present in the house, was taken into custody.

The security forces also arrested chairman of HC(M) Mirwaiz Moulvi Omar Farooq along with some others from his Nigeen house at 0145 hrs.

Officials said the arrests were made as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward incident in the city.

Mr Geelani and Mr Omar were scheduled to address the ''Lal Chowk'' meeting today. Sources said about 100 other separatist leaders including Mr Geelan's spokesman Aiyaz Akbar, and Saleem Geelani were also taken into custody.

However, Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party leader Shabir Ahmad Shah, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader Mohammad Yaseen Malik, separatist leader Nayeem Ahmad Khan and about two dozen other senior leaders had gone underground.

They declared that they would participate in the ''Lal Chowk'' march despite curfew in the city.

Sources said security forces and police conducted night-long raid at several places but could not arrest the underground leaders.

Mr Shah said security forces and police raided his house and harassed his family members besides ransacking household goods. He said he and other leaders would make an attempt to reach ''Lal Chowk''.

The venue of the CC meeting has been sealed and a large number of security force personnel, holding automatic weapons, are guarding the lanes and bylanes.

All roads leading to ''Lal Chowk'', the nerve centre of the summer capital of the Kashmir valley, have been closed and bullet proof bunker vehicles parked in the middle of the roads to foil any attempt by the organisers to reach there.

The CC, an alliance of almost all separatist organisations, including both the factions of the HC and other social, trade and religious organisations, are demanding opening of the Jehlum valley road, release of all detenues, withdrawal of all special powers to security forces and troops.

UNI BAS FMH ARB HS1129

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