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‘Keep the doors of Tihar jail open, we are coming: Geelani, Mirwaiz & Malik to NIA

Riyaz Wani | Updated on: 6 September 2017, 19:07 IST

Prominent Kashmiri separatist leaders have delivered a strong message to the National Investigation Agency, that is probing their involvement in the recent unrest in Kashmir.

“Keep the doors of Tihar jail open, we are coming,” top separatist leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik told the NIA, during a hastily called press conference at Srinagar’s Grand Mosque today.

The leaders said that they would fly to New Delhi on Saturday and head straight to NIA office to hold a dharna and court arrest. Syed Ali Geelani, who couldn’t attend the press conference as he is under house arrest, would be accompanying them

“We are the main targets of NIA. So we will surrender ourselves before the NIA,” Malik said. “India is pursuing a Gabbar Singh policy and its aim is to let loose a reign of terror to frighten Kashmiris. But we are not fazed”.

Malik said there would be opposition to NIA activities in Kashmir. “New Delhi is defaming our movement. It says our children die and get blinded because they are paid Rs 300,” he said. “So it has let NIA loose on us. It doesn’t understand that this nation (Kashmir) has witnessed a lot of oppression. As leaders, we have seen the worst jails of this country. So NIA can’t subdue us. There will be opposition to NIA from every mohalla and every home in Kashmir”.

The press conference was held shortly after NIA carried out raids at 11 places in Srinagar and North Kashmir. Many of them are said to people who are engaged in trade on the other side of the Line of Control. Around five traders were also raided in Old Delhi.

Already seven Kashmiri separatists and a prominent businessman Zahoor Ahmad Watali have been arrested by the central probe agency for allegedly receiving money from Pakistan to fund militancy and protests in Valley.

However, NIA has so far restrained from questioning Geelani, Mirwaiz and Malik, even though it has booked their close aides. Geelani’s two sons Naeem Geelani and Naseem Geelani have also been questioned several times. His son-in-law Altaf Fantoosh is now in jail.

Similarly Mirwaiz’s aide Shahidul Islam too has been arrested.

The agency has been questioning more people in the state and also making arrests. On Tuesday, NIA arrested two men including an independent press photographer Kamran Yousuf for alleged stone-pelting and mobilising support against security personnel through social media.

The latest arrests reveal a broadening of the scope of the central investigation agency in Valley, enabling it to take action even against alleged stone-pelters and those posting content on social media.

This state of affairs has turned the state government into little more than a spectator. Unlike in the past, the crackdown against separatist groups is being presided over directly by New Delhi.

Several middle rung leaders as well as senior separatist leader Shabir Shah have been arrested. Hurriyat groups have now decided to pre-emptively face up to the challenge and what some believe NIA’s possible future arrest of the top separatist trio of Geelani, Mirwaiz and Malik.

It was earlier in the day that Mirwaiz and Malik had reached Grand Mosque to ward off the chances of an arrest on the way to prevent the press conference. They stayed in the mosque, offered the afternoon prayers and then held the press conference in the afternoon.

Malik said they have decided to confront NIA as the objective of its investigation was to delegitimise the Kashmiri resistance leaders and the separatist movement.

“The attempt is to tarnish the reputation of the leadership to an extent that this oppressed nation is left with no leader who can raise voice on its behalf,” Malik said. “So we will fly to Delhi. We have already bought tickets. And we would go to NIA headquarters and confront the Gabbar Singh there and ask him if there is anything incriminating against us, reveal it to the people of Kashmir. But we won’t let you give a bad name to our people”.

Mirwaiz who read from a written statement, said that that the Hurriyat leadership “can never be pressurised to move away from the path of seeking justice and resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir”.

“We are not intimidated by the NIA threat and media trials,” Mirwaiz said. “Our movement is indigenous. It is not sponsored. We have only one demand. We want freedom”.

Speaking to Catch, Mirwaiz said New Delhi embarked on a sustained attempt to delegitimise the Hurriyat leadership as it had learnt that jailing them didn’t serve any purpose.

“Earlier, they arrested Hurriyat leaders but it didn’t change anything. So, they thought arresting us is like giving us respect, raising our reputation among people. So, they came up with this idea to tarnish our reputation,” They still arrested us but this time the charges were different. They said we were involved in money-laundering, corruption and building property. This is to hit our credibility. But people are smart enough to see what is happening.”

First published: 6 September 2017, 19:07 IST