Srinagar: Masarat Alam arrested, 12 hurt in clashes
The 45-year-old hardliner was arrested from his home in Habbakadal area of the city early Friday morning.
Masarat, who was himself seen chanting slogans in support of Pakistan, besides Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, had been placed under house arrest in Srinagar Thursday night.
"Bhat has been arrested in the case registered in police station Budgam in connection with the provocative actions during the rally on Wednesday," a senior police officer said.
An FIR was registered against Geelani, Masarat and other separatists leaders for "provocative activities" under various sections of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and other penal laws.
The arrest came hours ahead of Hurriyat's planned march to Tral area of Pulwama district where two youths had been killed in an army operation. Locals have alleged the two were killed in a staged encounter, while the army insisted they were militants shot down in a gunbattle.
Meanwhile, pitched battles were fought on the streets of Srinagar Friday afternoon when supporters of the Hurriyat Conference clashed with police resulting in injury to about a dozen people, including two policemen.
Clashes broke out between protesters and security forces soon after the Friday prayers concluded at the historic Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta area of the city. Reports of stone-pelting were also received from Tral and adjoining areas.
Young men with clothes wrapped on their faces were seen hurling stones at the police who fired teargas shells to break up the march.
As Srinagar was on the boil, the Centre said it was keeping a close watch on the situation and asserted there will be "zero tolerance" to militancy and separatism.
"The Central government is keeping a close watch on situation in J&K. Union Home Ministry is keeping itself abreast of all the sequence of the events from time to time.
They are also giving most valuable guidance to the state of J&K," Union Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh said.
"As far as BJP is concerned both at Centre and states, our stand has been very consistent as far as nationalism, patriotism is concerned. We follow a policy of zero tolerance towards terrorism, towards separatism... The coalition, which has come in Jammu and Kashmir is purely for the sake of governance," he said.
Apparently referring to the differences between the ruling allies in J&K -- BJP and PDP -- over tackling militancy, the minister said the two parties had come together "purely" to give a government in the troubled state after the Assembly polls threw up a fractured mandate.
Referring to Pakistan's support to the separatists, Singh said, "Pakistan is always looking forward to fish in troubled waters but as far as we are concerned and the BJP is concerned, we are very clear about it. We have zero tolerance towards separatism and terrorism", he said.
Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, under attack from several quarters, including the BJP, had on Thursday denied permission for Hurriyat's march to Tral.
Hours after the Wednesday rally, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had called up the Chief Minister and asked him to take "immediate and stringent" action against the law breakers. He told Sayeed there cannot be any compromise on the issue of national security.
Leader of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who led today's protests which saw the national flag being burnt, said "state terrorism" was the bigger issue in J&K.
"The bigger issue here is state terrorism, the bigger issue here is disappearance of more than 10,000 people who are missing in the last 10 years. You have more than eight thousand graves in Kashmir and nobody is talking about it in the Parliament and in Delhi, in other parts of India, (it's) very unfortunate," Farooq said.
He said the Hurriyat will register a "very strong" protest to demand an inquiry into the Tral incident and arrest of the culprits.
"We will continue our protest on these issues, we belive that the time has come when the (Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has to go," he said. .
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