This Article is From Apr 18, 2015

After Separatist Masarat Alam's Arrest, Protesters Clash With Police in Srinagar

Police had to resort to teargas shelling to disperse protesters in Srinagar. (Agence France-Presse)

Srinagar: Kashmiri separatist leader Masarat Alam, arrested for leading a rally where Pakistan flags were waved, was sent to seven-day police custody on Friday night by a court in Budgam. His arrest on Friday had led to clashes between his supporters and the police in which 24 people were injured. At a rally two days ago, Mr Alam's supporters had waved Pakistani flags and and he joined them in shouting pro-Pakistan slogans at a rally.

Here are the latest developments:

  1. The clashes began after Friday prayers, when protesters threw stones at security forces. Friday prayers were led by Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who had asked the congregation to protest peacefully.

  2. Mirwaiz Umer criticised the state government for killing of a youth in Tral and demanded an inquiry. He also accused PDP for surrendering before BJP on ideological issues. "It is very unfortunate that PDP has surrendered before the BJP," he said.

  3. Sayed Ali Shah Geelani, the ideological mentor of Masarat, was prevented from leading a march on Friday to Tral, which is tense amid massive protests. Mr Geelani returned to the Valley on Wednesday after three months in Delhi. It was the rally for his reception where Pakistani flags were waved and pro-Pakistan slogans were raised.

  4. As he was led away by the police from his house in Srinagar this morning, Masarat Alam told NDTV, "Arrest is nothing new for us... this is not happening for the first time. This detention will not deter us," adding that Pakistani flags and slogans have been raised in the Kashmir Valley before.

  5. Amid nationwide outrage, Home Minister Rajnath had called up Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed yesterday and sternly demanded "immediate stringent action". On friday, the Home Minister said, "No man who takes part in anti-national activities will be forgiven. Masarat Alam has been arrested, let the state government take action now."

  6. Chief Minister Sayeed, whose Peoples Democratic Party or PDP favours dialogue with separatists, was forced to take a tough stand. "Democracy is a battle of ideas, they are free to have their own way, speak their mind. But something which is not acceptable, is not, will not be tolerated," he said about Pakistani flags being raised.

  7. His party's Zaffar Meraj said after the clashes, "You can't stop protests, protests will take place. Friday's protests were against the killing of an innocent youth, but we are clear that anti-national activities won't be tolerated."

  8. The Mufti is under political pressure from partner BJP, which had protested yesterday demanding Masarat Alam's arrest. The BJP's Ram Madhav had warned, "We are not part of the government to give space to those shouting pro-Pakistan slogans there."

  9. About the clashes yesterday, Ram Madhav said, "It's a law and order issue. Police will handle it."

  10. Masarat Alam, 45, is accused of organising stone-throwing protests in the Valley in 2010, in which more than 100 people were killed. His release, days after the Sayeed government was sworn in, had created massive controversy and became a flashpoint in the new alliance between the PDP and BJP, who have struggled to bridge an ideological divide.

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