- Major crackdown across J&K in aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack
- Security forces carry out overnight raids, Centre sends additional troops
- Dozens of separatists, including Yasin Malik, Abdul Hamid Fayaz arrested
Amid a major crackdown on separatists in Jammu and Kashmir that began last night, the Centre has sent around 10,000 soldiers of various paramilitary forces to the state. The massive crackdown, which happened through the night, resulted in the arrest of around 130 people, mainly separatists from the Jamaat-e-Islami (Kashmir) and the Hurriyat Conference. This included Jamaat-e-Islami chief Abdul Hamid Fayaz and Hurriyat Conference's Yasin Malik.
The Jamaat-e-Islami in Jammu and Kashmir was once considered to be the so-called "political wing" of terror group Hizb-ul-Mujahdeen. The police have termed the detentions as routine, saying "Separatists and potential stone-throwers have been arrested in the past as well, as a preventive measure."
A notice from the Home Ministry in New Delhi late on Friday evening led to "100 additional companies of paramilitary soldiers" being airlifted to Srinagar, where the Jammu and Kashmir police and existing security forces worked through the night rolling out their deployment plan for the next few days.
Depending on the paramilitary force, a 'company' of soldiers typically consists of between 80 and 150 soldiers, suggesting that last evening's order by the Ministry of Home Affairs would see around 10,000 soldiers airlifted to Srinagar.
The fresh deployment include 45 companies from CRPF or Central Reserve Police Force, 35 from BSF or Border Security Force, and 10 each of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
There has been a considerable build-up of security forces across Jammu and Kashmir after last week's terror attack in Pulwama, in which over 40 soldiers were killed. Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed or JeM released photographs and a video after the terror attack claiming full responsibility for it.
Since then, the situation has been tense across the state, especially the Kashmir Valley. Earlier this week, three Jaish terrorists - one believed to be a conspirator in last week's terror attack and another, a local Kashmiri bomb specialist - were killed in a military operation in Pulwama. Four soldiers and a police constable were also killed in the encounter.
Separatist Yasin Malik was the first to be arrested by the police from his Maisuma residence in Srinagar. This was followed by dozens of Jamaat-e-Islami separatists, including its chief Abdul Hamid Fayaz being arrested during overnight raids across the Valley.
Yasin Malik's arrest comes ahead of a crucial hearing on Article 35-A in Supreme Court, which is likely to take place on Monday, February 25. The article, incorporated into the Indian Constitution in 1954, grants special rights and privileges to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti criticised the Centre's move to arrest separatists.
In the past 24 hours, Hurriyat leaders & workers of Jamaat organisation have been arrested. Fail to understand such an arbitrary move which will only precipitate matters in J&K. Under what legal grounds are their arrests justified? You can imprison a person but not his ideas.- Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) February 23, 2019
Separatist-turned-mainstream politician Sajjad Gani Lone, who now heads the political party People's Conference, also cautioned the government by reminding it of a similar "failed model" that was tried in 1990.
Gov seems to be on an arrest spree. Just a word of caution. Large scale arrests took place in 1990. Leaders were ferried to Jodhpur and many jails across the country. Things worsened. This is a tried tested and failed model. Please desist from it. It won't work.Things will worsen- Sajad Lone (@sajadlone) February 23, 2019
In the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack, the government also withdrew the security cover of several separatists in Kashmir, including Yasin Malik, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Shabir Shah and Saleem Geelani.