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Pulwama fallout: Major crackdown on separatists, additional troops rushed to J&K

JKLF chief Yasin Malik and several others have been arrested in a major crackdown on Friday night.

Pulwama fallout: Major crackdown on separatists, additional troops rushed to J&K

JAMMU: Amid a major crackdown on separatist leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre has sent additional companies of paramilitary forces to the state on an urgent basis, reports said on Saturday.

News agency PTI had reported that the Centre has rushed 100 additional companies of paramilitary forces to Jammu and Kashmir ''without assigning any reason for the heavy deployment.''

Sources, however, told Zee Media that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in an urgent fax message, has ordered 100 companies of paramilitary forces to be rushed to the Kashmir Valley over and above the number of forces stationed in the strife-torn state already. 

The fax was sent to the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary, the State Home Secretary and the Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police.  

Among the 100 companies, 45 will be from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), 35 from the Border Security Force (BSF), whereas 10 are from the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) each. 

“CRPF is requested to ensure immediate movement of forces in coordination with IG (Ops) of all forces,” the fax said. 

The message has “immediate” mentioned on the top, underscoring the urgency of the action. 

This comes hours after the security forces arrested separatist leader and JKLF chief Yasin Malik and several others in a major crackdown late on Friday.

According to reports, the J&K Police swooped on Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir members in Kashmir during the intervening night of Friday and Saturday and detained around two dozen of its cadres, including its chief Abdul Hamid Fayaz.

Though the J&K authorities termed the detentions as routine, officials privy to the developments told PTI that this is the first major crackdown on the organisation that is part of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, a separatist conglomerate.

The Jamaat has issued a statement condemning the detentions and said, "...The move is a well-designed conspiracy to pave way for further uncertainty in the region."

The Jamaat claimed that during the intervening night of February 22 and February 23, police and other agencies launched a mass arrest drive and raided many houses in the Kashmir Valley, wherein dozens of its central and district level leaders were arrested, including its Ameer (chief) Jamaat Dr Abdul Hamid Fayaz and advocate Zahid Ali (spokesperson).

The Jamaat cadres were picked up from various places, including Anantnag, Pahalgham, Dialgam and Tral - all in south Kashmir, reports said.

The Jamaat termed the raids as "fishy" at a time when the Supreme Court is to hear a petition regarding Article 35A of the Constitution, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

"...The way forces personnel unleashed the spree of mass arrest and detained dozens of Jamaat members prior to the hearing seems something is hatching behind the curtains. Any attempt of eroding or tampering Article 35A is unacceptable for people of Jammu and Kashmir," it said.

The action comes nearly eight days after an audacious terror attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama district in which 40 personnel lost their lives. 

Áttacking the Centre, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday questioned the legality of the crackdown on Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir leaders, saying the "arbitrary" move will only "precipitate matters" in the state.

The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister was reacting to the government crackdown on separatists and Jamaat-e-Islami which began Friday night. 

"In the past 24 hours, Hurriyat leaders & workers of Jamaat organisation have been arrested. Fail to understand such an arbitrary move which will only precipitate matters in J&K," Mehbooba said in a tweet.

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

(With Agency inputs)