Top Kashmiri leaders under house arrest ahead of polls

  • Tensions up ahead of local polls with India deploying additional 40,000 troops to ‘maintain order’

SRINAGAR: Ahead of the local elections in the Indian-held Kashmir (IHK), All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has said that he has been placed under house arrest.

“Under house arrest! A peculiar democratic process of the elections gearing up as the huge deployment of the forces, PSAs, incarcerations, house arrests, raids, curbs, internet bans gather momentum! Not to mention the unknown contestants and amused public! What mockery of democracy is at display!” he said in a tweet.

The four-phase polls for the local bodies in the disputed state are being held on October 8, 10, 13 and 16. Tensions have been rising ahead of the local elections with New Delhi deploying an additional 40,000 troops to the disputed region to maintain order. Both pro-Indian parties and freedom groups fighting for self-determination have called for a boycott of the upcoming polls.

The region has been under direct control of New Delhi since the local government collapsed there in June. Several Hurriyat leaders and activists have been put on house arrest by the Indian forces in order to prevent them from running boycott campaigns against the elections. The police arrested Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik from his office at Aabi Guzar in Srinagar to stop him from carrying out an election boycott drive.

A JKLF spokesperson said that many other party leaders and activists have also been put behind the bars during the past few days to prevent them from campaigning against the polls. Earlier, the police had arrested Hurriyat spokesperson Ghulam Ahmed Gulzar from his residence in Srinagar and later booked him under the Public Safety Act (PSA). Gulzar is currently lodged at the Kot Bhalwal Jail in Jammu.

Other Hurriyat leaders including Hakeem Abdul Rasheed, Muhammad Yasin Attai and Syed Imtiaz Haider have also been put under the illegal detention.  Senior Hurriyat leader Ali Shah Geelani is under continued house arrest at his Hyderpora residence in Srinagar since 2010 while the authorities have also placed Hurriyat leader Mukhtar Ahmed Waza under house detention in Islamabad town.