In a move ostensibly to ensure that the assembly elections are not “disrupted”, a massive clampdown operation is being quietly carried out in the Kashmir Valley.
Since elections were announced on October 25, as many as 928 people have been detained in several prisons — which works out to an average of 300 detentions per week. More than half the detainees have been categorised as “stone pelters” and “trouble mongers”.
Those who have been picked up include over 80 leaders of the Hurriyat and its affiliates, and over 100 released or surrendered militants.
The clampdown began immediately after the Election Commission announced polls, and the detainees will stay behind bars until the end of the five-phase voting that closes on December 20, top police and intelligence officials told The Sunday Express.
The first phase of polling is on November 25.
“The idea was not to allow any disruption of the poll process as had happened during the general elections. With such elements in detention, we can now concentrate on the security of the candidates and the pollingstations also, since the levels of deployment of forces too have come down,” Director-General of Police K Rajendra Kumar said.
“No political party has protested against the preventive arrests, because they all want an incident-free election,” DGP Kumar said.
The clampdown appears to have been planned much before the announcement of polls, with security agencies ready with lists and addresses of “disruptive” political elements and “chronic” stone-pelters. A similar exercise was carried out before the second phase of polling for the Lok Sabha, but the number of preventive detentions at that time was around 450, officials said.
Pictures taken by security agencies during demonstrations and rallies helped identify the targets of the preventive detention sweep, they said.
Among prominent Kashmiri leaders, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani are under undeclared house arrest. Shabir Shah is in prison. Yasin Malik has recently been moved from prison to hospital for the treatment of a kidney ailment.