Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik have decided to pre-emptively face up to the NIA by deciding to voluntarily offer themselves up to the agency for questioning. Keep the doors of Tihar jail open, we are coming, Malik delivered the message to the NIA during a press conference at Srinagars Grand Mosque on Wednesday. The leaders said that they would fly to New Delhi on Saturday and head straight to NIA office to hold a dharna and court arrest. Syed Ali Geelani, who couldnt attend the press conference as he is under house arrest, would be accompanying them. Malik compared the NIA as an instrument of the Gabbar Singh policy of New Delhi to frighten Kashmiris and Kashmiri leadership. He said New Delhi and the sections of national media were trying to delegitimize the pro-freedom leadership and also the protesters by alleging they are paid for their work. New Delhi is defaming our movement. It says our children die and get blinded because they are paid Rs 300, Malik said.
Mirwaiz who read from a written statement said that the Hurriyat leadership can never be pressurized to move away from the path of seeking justice and resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The press conference was held amid NIA raids at 27 places in Srinagar, North Kashmir and New Delhi. Many of those raided are said to be the cross-LoC traders. Around five traders were also raided in old Delhi. On Thursday, there were raids at the residences of Hurriyat (G) leader Agha Syed Hassan and Ghulam Nabi Sumji. Already seven Kashmiri separatists and a prominent businessman Zahoor Ahmad Watali have been arrested by the central probe agency for being the alleged recipients of money from Pakistan meant for funding militancy and protests in Valley. However, NIA has so far restrained from questioning Geelani, Mirwaiz and Malik, even though it has booked their close aides. Geelanis two sons Naeem Geelani and Naseem Geelani have also been questioned several times. His son-in-law Altaf Fantoosh is now in jail. Similarly Mirwaizs aide Shahidul Islam too has been arrested. The agency has been questioning more people in the state and also making arrests. On Tuesday, NIA arrested two men including an independent press photographer Kamran Yousuf for alleged stone-pelting and mobilising support against security personnel through social media.
The latest arrests reveal a broadening of the remit of the central investigation agency in Valley, enabling it to take action even against the alleged stone pelters and those posting stuff on social media. This state of affairs has turned the state government into little more than a spectator. Unlike in the past, the crackdown against separatist groups is being presided over directly from New Delhi. The raids have created an uncertain state of affairs. They are of a piece with the centres policy of an iron-fisted approach towards Kashmiri leaders and the supporters of the ongoing Azadi movement. Big question is, whether such measure help the cause of peace in Kashmir? Very unlikely. If past is any guide such measures, though unprecedented in their ferocity now, have in the past done little to ameliorate the situation. One can only hope that New Delhi understands the futility of the use of force and harsh measures to control the situation in Kashmir, sooner than later.
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