SRINAGAR: The three top separatist leaders in Kashmir were on Thursday detained by police after they tried to take out a march to protest disallowing of a joint press conference.
The three separatist leaders –hardliner Syed Ali Geelani, moderate Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and pro-independence JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik -- were scheduled to meet at Geelani’s Hyderpora residence and later address a joint press conference to call for boycott of bypolls to two parliamentary seats in the Valley.
The policemen deployed outside Geelani’s residence did not allow Mirwaiz and Malik to enter inside and also disallowed media from covering the joint press conference.
However, Mirwaiz and Malik defied police restrictions and reached near main gate of Geelani’s residence but the cops prevented them from going inside.
Instead, Geelani, who is under house arrest since a long time, defied the house arrest restrictions and came out of the house.
The three leaders’ tried to take out a protest march. However, policemen swung into action and detained the trio. They were bundled in a police vehicle and lodged in Police Station Humhama.
Before being arrested, the separatist leaders urged people to boycott the forthcoming bypolls to two parliamentary seats in the Valley saying it (election) provides India an opportunity to mislead world community.
“Amid presence of 10 lakh forces personnel, the election drama has lost relevance and credibility,” they said adding, “It is not a democratic process but better to say a drama being enacted with the help of armed forces”.
As media men tried to cover arrest of the separatist leaders, the policemen attempted to prevent them from covering it. During this process, a police officer assaulted two photo journalists -- Tauseef Mustafa of AFP and Mubashir Khan of Great Kashmir, a local English daily.
Some other photo and video journalists including Farooq Javed Khan (EPA), Shauib Masoodi (Indian Express) and Umar Sheikh (Times Now) were also beaten and abused by the police officer.
After the incident, the photo-journalists staged a sit-in protest at Press Enclave in city centre and demanded action against the police office.
“If no action is taken against the police officer, the entire journalist community including photojournalists would participate in a protest march against the police brutality on Saturday and stop covering all police,” Kashmir Press Photographers Association (KPPA) spokesman said.
He alleged that police officer assaulted Tauseef and caught hold of his throat and attempted to suffocate him.
A police driver also rushed his armoured vehicle in an attempt to overrun the photojournalists and while trying to save themselves, Mubashir had the vehicle crushing his foot, he further said adding there are clear photo and video evidences offering a clear detail of the police assault on the media men.
Kashmir Editors Guild, a body of Kashmir editors, condemned the police action against newsmen and sought intervention of the government at the highest level to ensure that state’s principal arm does not exhibit an abnormal growth.