Separatists arrested in Kashmir in overnight raids

February 24, 2019

TEHRAN - Situation continues to be tense in Indian-controlled Kashmir with more than 100 separatist leaders and activists detained in overnight raids, sources said on Saturday.

The raids are seen as part of the crackdown by Indian authorities to prevent anti-India gatherings and protests in the run up to general elections in India two months later.

“The arrival of more troops and the arrests of leaders and activists of separatist groups is part of an election exercise undertaken to ensure free and fair elections,” one senior police official was quoted as saying by Reuters.

It is the first major crackdown on the separatist leadership in the disputed region, which comes a week after a terror attack in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, which killed 44 Indian security personnel.

Following the attack, Indian government warned that it will use all options to avenge the attack claimed by Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

Some reports suggest that the raids are linked to next week’s Supreme Court hearing on Article 35A, which gives special powers to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

An appeal has been filed in Supreme Court to repeal the legislation, which has stirred tensions in the Himalayan region, with politicians cutting across the political spectrum protesting against it.

Terming the arrests 'arbitrary’, region’s former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said it will only precipitate the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Under what legal grounds are their arrests justified? You can imprison a person but not his ideas,” she tweeted.

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