CM bypassed over house arrest of Hurriyat leaders

SRINAGAR: Centre’s curious decision not to take Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed over the issue of placing  Hurriyat leaders under house arrest on Thursday  forced it to temporarily abandon plans to restrain the separatists from travelling to Delhi for talks with Pakistan national security adviser Sartaj Aziz and release the separatists, it has been revealed.

According to the Times of India, the Centre promptly made amends and released the Hurriyat leaders following Sayeed’s protests at being bypassed. However, attempts are very much on to incarcerate the Hurriyat leaders in Srinagar until after the NSA-level talks with the connivance of state leaders.

Unnamed sources in the government stated that, Intelligence Bureau director Dineshwar Sharma had directly spoken to J&K DGP K Rajendra Kumar on Thursday morning regarding the Centre’s strategy to stall Hurriyat’s plans to engage with Aziz ahead of NSA-level talks and help Pakistan raise the Kashmir bogey.

The Hurriyat leadership invited by Pakistan — Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Moulvi Abbas Ansari and JKLF chief Yasin Malik – were placed under house arrest soon after. The Centre seems to have assumed that CM Sayyed, who rearrested Massarat Alam after his release and has checked separatist forces, would agree to the plan.

After coming to know  of the house arrests, Sayyed and his daughter Mehbooba Mufti registered their strong protest, describing the failure of the Centre to keep them in the loop as a “lack of confidence in the ruling dispensation in J&K”. The duo found it rather “unfair” and “insulting” that they got to know of the detention of Hurriyat leaders from the DGP rather than the political leadership in Delhi, according to the Times of India. The Centre, in a bid to mollify them, lifted the house arrest order and let the Hurriyat leaders go free.

But the matter is far from over.  Unnamed government sources  said the Centre has not yet given up  its plans to restrain Hurriyat leaders from travelling to Delhi to discuss Kashmir with Aziz ahead of NSA-level talks. “Attempts were renewed this evening to convince the J&K government to place the Hurriyat leaders under house arrest once again. The initial response from the state leadership has not been too disappointing,” said a senior government official.

These developments raise questions over the autonomy of the chief minister’s office in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in matters of security and the locus of decision making and authority in the state.

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