Srinagar: In an apparent U-turn in its policy towards the “protection” of Hurriyat Conference leadership in restive Kashmir, the state government is contemplating to reduce their security cover, at least in case of Valley’s head priest and senior separatist leader Mirwaiz Dr Umar Farooq.
Sources said in a bid to restore normalcy in the Valley, on boil since July 8, when militant commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani and his two associates were killed, the state government plans to “test the kneejerk reaction” to change in security cover to the separatist leaders particularly Mirwaiz Umar, who is being seen by many as “angry young man” co-heading the 2016 agitation.
Sources said a Deputy Superintendent of Police, who exclusively looks after the Hurriyat security was last week asked to report back to the office of Inspector General of Police, Security wing.
The Mirwaiz had already started facing the heat as even his family has complained of being frisked while entering or leaving their caged residence at Nigeen where the head priest continues to be under house arrest since the day Kashmir erupted against Burhan’s killing. The young separatist leader has made multiple attempts to break the cordon for protests “against the worst ever rights abuse.” On July 13 he even climbed the wall of his residence but was rearrested.
Sources said over a week back some of the ministers and their “secret advisors” bounced off the idea to reduce security cover to the Hurriyat leadership.
Sources in the Home Department said the matter was in active consideration of the state government adding that the same was likely to be discussed with the union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh during his 2-day Kashmir visit, which started today.
Presently, Geelani who heads the Hurriyat G, Mirwaiz lead Hurriyat M and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman, Muhammad Yasin Malik have been jointly spearheading the ongoing agitation.
In a bid to restore law and order, the government has been trying to counter the protests calendar being issued by the separatist leadership.
Initially it started with an appeal by the government spokesman and Education Minister Naeem Akhter’s to the separatist leadership asking them to chip-in support in restoration of peace.
But Mirwaiz instantly ridiculed arguing “how could the separatists restore normalcy” when government treats them as threat to law and order, and they continue to be caged?
Thereafter apart from countering the Hurriyat calendar for relaxation in hartals, the government recently raided the Hurriyat M headquarters at Raj Bagh.
Ironically, the government has changed its stand towards Hurriyat at a time when even the Army general has supported call for dialogue with the separatist leadership.
In June last year, the Peoples Democratic Party –Bharitiya Janta Party alliance, during its first innings had plans to improve the security cover to the Hurriyat leadership.
Even as the government is fighting a political battle with separatist leaders, it is providing them high-end security. Official records reveal that government spends over Rs one crore annually on security to the separatist leaders.
In 2005, in response to a question in the Legislative Council, the then Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said that Rs one crore was spent on the security of 10 separatist leaders, including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Shabir Shah and Bilal Gani Lone.
Though Azad did not mention the specific threats against these leaders, he said protected persons are provided security on the basis of threat perception.
Official sources said since 2003, Geelani too enjoys government security.
No official was available to comment on the issue as they avoid talking to media since the unrest erupted. Despite repeated attempts, Mirwaiz Umar could not be contacted for comments.
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