Centre treads Kashmir with care

Centre treads Kashmir with care

Geelani held; panel to discuss toning down of Armed Forces Special Powers Act

Centre treads Kashmir with care

As curfew continued for the second day on Wednesday, police arrested Geelani at his Haiderpora residence in Srinagar, where he was placed under house arrest for the last three days.

The hardliner, who has been charting out protest programmes in the Valley, was planning to address a meeting at the Hazratbal shrine on Friday.  Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and his father and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah have also planned to  visit the shrine the same day.

Geelani’s presence at the shrine could create problems for Omar, whose government is facing public ire over 69 civilian deaths since June 12.

“He (Geelani) could be released anytime on bail. There are no detention orders. We have detained him as we apprehended he was going to lead a programme that could aggravate the situation,” Superintendent of Police Aftab Kukroo said.

Geelani’s Friday meeting was aimed at garnering public support for resolutions, which he is said to have communicated to the Centre through the media. They include declaring the Kashmir issue a disputed one, ending  human rights violations, demilitarisation, revocation of the AFSPA and releasing  Kashmiri prisoners, including Afzal Guru.

Id celebration

Addressing the media before his arrest from the window of his house, Geelani urged the people to celebrate Id without resorting to violence during demonstrations.

Before being arrested, Geelani named Shia Muslim leader Nisar Hussain Rather acting chairman of his faction. “Nisar and acting general secretary Masrat Alam will give you the protest programme in my absence,” he told the public. Masrat is in hiding and the police have launched a massive hunt for him.

Following Geelani’s arrest, angry protesters clashed with security forces at Haiderpora. Reports of clashes came in from other parts of Srinagar, including Soura. As the state government tries to contain violence by arresting Geelani, the Centre is making moves to assuage strained public sentiments by addressing concerns over the controversial AFSPA.
 It has decided to discuss the demand made by the state government to partially withdraw the Act at the Cabinet Committee for Security (CCS) meeting to be held in New Delhi on Friday.

The demand was made by Abdullah in his second one-to-one meeting within a month with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The CCS will take stock of the latest situation in the Valley and deliberate “a package” that may, among others, include steps to increase employment opportunities, release of prisoners and quick action against human rights violations. The political and economic measures are to be announced before Id, according to sources.

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