5:21 pm - Saturday July 19, 5913

Hurriyat leaders released hours after house arrest

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Just hours after they were placed under house arrest, Kashmiri separatist leaders were on Thursday released by authorities in Srinagar indicating a confused response to their proposed meeting with Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz.

Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and leaders of the moderate faction Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Moulvi Abbas Ansari and JKLF leader Yasin Malik had been placed under house arrest in the morning.

The police presence outside the house of Geelani continued as his movements in the Valley are generally restricted.

The house arrest– and subsequent release — came three days ahead of their meeting with Pakistan’s NSA Sartaj Aziz when he visits India for talks.

There is no word yet on when the separatist leaders would travel to New Delhi for the meeting.

Authorities had put up stop gates and deployed police personnel outside the houses before informing the separatist leaders not to step out.

Police sources told Hindustan Times that the steps were taken to prevent the separatists from going to Delhi to meet Sartaj Aziz.

Slamming the house arrest former chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, “If the Centre was so keen to prevent the Hurriyat leaders from meeting Sartaj Aziz, they should’ve been told to detain them themselves.”

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is meeting Sartaj Aziz on Sunday in New Delhi for talks on countering terror.

In a provocative act the Pakistan High Commission had on Wednesday called hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani for a meeting with Aziz and invited moderate separatist Kashmiri leaders including its chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq for a reception on August 23.

India immediately warned against such a meeting, saying “appropriate action” will be taken.

Last July, India called off talks with Pakistan because Kashmiri separatists were invited before a meeting of foreign secretaries.

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