J&K Government withdraws security cover of separatist leaders in Kashmir
The Jammu and Kashmir administration has issued orders to withdraw security cover of six separatist leaders, including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Besides Mirwaiz, the security has been withdrawn for Abdul Gani Bhat, Bilal Lone, Hashim Qureshi, Fazal Haq Qureshi and Shabir Shah.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration on February 17, 2019 issued orders to withdraw security cover of six separatist leaders, including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
The security has been withdrawn for Abdul Gani Bhat, Bilal Lone, Hashim Qureshi, Fazal Haq Qureshi and Shabir Shah, besides Mirwaiz. The decision comes days after the shocking Pulwama terror attack, in which 44 CRPF personnel were killed.
• According to the order, all security and vehicles provided to the separatist leaders will stand withdrawn with immediate effect.
• Under it, no security forces or cover will be provided, under any pretext, to these leaders or any other separatists.
• The order states that if the separatists have any other facilities provided by Government, they will be withdrawn forthwith.
• Further, the state police will review if there are any other separatists who have security or facilities that will be withdrawn immediately.
Why were the Separatists provided with security?
The Jammu and Kashmir state government in consultation with the central government had provided these separatist leaders with ad hoc security, keeping in mind the threat to their lives from some militant groups.
The militants of Hizbul Mujahideen had killed Mirwaiz’s father, Mirwaiz Farooq, in 1990 and Abdul Gani Lone in 2002.
Reaction of the Separatists
Mirwaiz, who is one of the religious heads in Kashmir valley, said that the Hurriyat leaders had never asked for the security. “In fact, it was the government that insisted on keeping the personnel based on what they said was their assessment of threat perception,” he said.
Separatist leader Abdul Ghani Bhat also said, “Security was provided by state government, I don’t need it. My security is Kashmiri people. There are chances of war between Pakistan and India. Let them address the war issue first.”
The order comes two days after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Kashmir on February 15, 2019 to review the security situation in the Valley after the Pulwama attack. After reviewing the security situation in Kashmir, the Home Minister said that the security given to people being funded by Pakistan and the ISI should be reviewed.
The Minister said that some elements in Jammu and Kashmir have links with the ISI and terrorist organisations. Their security should be reviewed.
• On February 14, 2019, at least 37 CRPF personnel were killed and dozens injured after a Jaish suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 100 kilograms (kg) of explosives into their bus at Awantipora in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir.
• More than 2,500 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were travelling in a convoy of 78 vehicles when they were ambushed on the Srinagar-Jammu highway at Latoomode in Awantipora in South Kashmir.
• Many of the CRPF personnel were returning from leave to rejoin duty in the valley.
• The attack is one of the deadliest terror attacks on India’s armed forces since the Uri airbase attack in 2016.
• The Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack and the suicide bomber was identified as Adil Ahmed, who according to officials joined the terror group in 2018.
• Ahmed was driving a vehicle packed with over 300 kg of explosives on the wrong side of the road and hit the bus, which was carrying around 39-44 CRPF personnel.
• The powerful explosion reduced the bus to a mangled heap of iron with no survivors. The explosion was heard many kilometres away, including in some parts of Srinagar adjoining Pulwama district.