Mehbooba Mufti Government Tried To Stop Arrest Of Separatists: Sources

The arrests are seen as a major setback for Mehbooba Mufti's party, the ruling PDP's efforts for dialogue process with stakeholders

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Mehbooba Mufti Government Tried To Stop Arrest Of Separatists: Sources

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Sources said CM Mehbooba Mufti expressed displeasure over the arrests (File)

Srinagar:  The Mehbooba Mufti government had attempted to block the arrest of seven separatists who were rounded up and brought to Delhi earlier this week on allegations of abetting terror, sources told NDTV. The arrests are seen as a major setback for Ms Mufti's party, the ruling PDP's efforts for dialogue process with stakeholders. As a move in this direction, talks with Hurriyat leaders was part of its agenda of alliance with the BJP.

Sources said the state government had tried to stop arrested separatists from being taken to Delhi, But the agency had brushed off the objections, saying since they had been arrested, the accused had to be produced in court within 24 hours.

Sources said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had expressed displeasure over the arrests. Her absence at the oath ceremony of President Ram Nath Kovind yesterday is seen as another indication of it, giving rise to speculations about the level of unease in her party.

The arrested separatists - including Altaf Fantosh, the son-in-law of separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani - have been accused of receiving funds from Pakistan to sponsor terror activities and protests by stone-throwers in Kashmir Valley. They were taken to Delhi and today a court has allowed the investigators to have their custody for 10 days for questioning.

On June 28, the detention of Fantosh by the state police was seen as an attempt to circumvent the NIA probe. Giving breather to the separatists was also seen as a chip to bargain on the implementation of Goods and Services Tax in the valley. Soon after, Mr Geelani changed his stand on GST, asking his followers not to make an issue of it.

The mainstream Opposition later accused Mr Geelani for bailing out the government in what they said was a case of impingement into special status and fiscal autonomy of the state under Article 370.  Jammu and Kashmir enjoys special status in the Constitution and Parliament has a limited mandate to frame laws for the state, which has its own separate constitution.

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Source told NDTV that the agency may now widen its net and Mr Geelani is likely to be questioned on the hawala and money laundering allegations. The Enforcement Directorate has also arrested senior separatist leader Shabir Shah in connection with a money laundering case. Mr Shah was shifted to Delhi after he was arrested from his home in Srinagar late last night.

Officials say a court in Delhi had issued non-bailable warrant against Mr Shah after he failed to appear before the Enforcement Directorate for questioning. The agency had sent multiple summons to Mr Shah in the case that dates back to 2005.
 

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