Did Mehbooba Mufti order the release of Kashmiri separatist leaders?

Top Kashmiri separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, were on Thursday put under house arrest only to be released within hours in actions that were linked to their proposed meeting with Pakistani National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz in Delhi on Sunday.

Last Updated: Aug 20, 2015, 20:26 PM IST
Did Mehbooba Mufti order the release of Kashmiri separatist leaders?

Srinagar: Top Kashmiri separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, were on Thursday put under house arrest only to be released within hours in actions that were linked to their proposed meeting with Pakistani National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz in Delhi on Sunday.

While the detention drama played out, there were confusion over who ordered the release of the Hurriyat leaders.

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While some reports quoted sources as saying that the order was given from the Centre, as per NDTV, it was Jammu and Kashmir CM's daughter Mehbooba Mufti who called top police officers in the state asking them to release the separatists.

However, there has been no official confirmation to the same.

Early this morning, police put restrictions on the movement of the several separatist leaders including moderate Farooq, Maulana Mohammad Abbas Ansari, Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, Shabir Ahmad Shah and Ayaz Akbar.

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Security personnel were deployed outside the Hydrepora residence of Geelani, the hardline Hurriyat chief who is already under house arrest.

JKLF Chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik was taken into preventive custody from his Maisuma residence and lodged at police station Kothibagh.

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Officials were tightlipped on the reason for the detention but there was speculation that it could have been done to give a message to Pakistan that its engagement with separatists leaders was not welcome, especially at a time when their National Security Advisors are to meet.

But, in a U-turn the authorities lifted the curbs on the leaders, again without giving any reason.

"All the separatist leaders, who were detained or put under house arrest this morning, have been released," a top police official said on the condition of anonymity, as per PTI.

Pakistan High Commission in Delhi has invited Geelani for a meeting on August 24 with Aziz, who will be in the national capital for talks with Indian NSA Ajit Doval.

Moderate separatist leaders have also been invited for a reception being hosted by the High Commission in New Delhi for the visiting Pakistani official on August 23.

India had cancelled Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan in August last year after its envoy invited separatist leaders for consultations ahead of the meeting in Islamabad.

(With PTI inputs)