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APHC: nocturnal raids, arrests in Old City ‘to create fear’; ‘tougher curbs imposed on Mirwaiz’

Stating that the government forces were arresting ‘young boys during nocturnal raids’ in Srinagar’s Old City, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led All Parties Hurriyat Conference on Friday said that restrictions on Kashmir’s chief cleric have been increased since reports said lasted week that he will be set free from home-incarceration.

In a statement issued on Friday, the pro-freedom amalgam said: “Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is under house arrest since August 2019, was again not allowed to offer Friday prayers” at the region’s largest mosque, Jamia Masjid, in Nowhatta of summer capital Srinagar.

The APHC said that after the authorities “went back on their decision to release Mirwaiz” last Friday, and people at Jamia Masjid protested, “restrictions on him have been further tightened”. “Even his personal staff is not allowed to go inside his premises,” the statement noted.

Last week, in his first reaction since India abrogated the limited-autonomy of the disputed Himalayan region, Mirwaiz told the BBC Urdu that some police officials who had visited him at his Nigeen residence had told him that he was no longer under house detention and was free to lead the Friday congregation at Jamia Masjid. “I came to know through media reports that my house detention is over. Some police officials came and told me that I am being allowed to lead the Friday prayers.

“But on late Thursday evening some policemen came and said that my house detention will continue and you will not be allowed to attend the Friday congregation.”

As Mirwaiz was not allowed to join the congregation, protests demanding his release had rocked Nowhatta and adjoining localities.

My house has been turned into a garrison yet again, Mirwaiz had remarked in the BBC interview.

The Jammu and Kashmir police have arrested 39 youth and 15 among them will be slapped with Public Safety Act after the Nowhatta demonstration last week. We have arrested 39 stone-throwers who indulged in throwing stones in Srinagar recently. Fifteen of them will be booked under PSA,” Inspector General of Police in Kashmir Vijay Kumar had said.

The Amnesty International has termed the PSA a ‘lawless law’ as it allows detention without trial for up to two years. “On the other hand authorities in downtown are conducting nocturnal raids and arresting young boys and booking them under PSA to create fear. Such moves are highly regrettable and authoritarian to say the least. Forced suppression is no guarantee to peace, the APHC said.

Calling for release of the Mirwaiz and other prisoners, the pro-freedom conglomerate said Indian “authorities should “engage in constructive dialogue with all stakeholders for peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue and peace in the subcontinent”.

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