JKLF chairman Mohammad Yaseen Malik and nine other senior leaders of the separatist outfit were taken into preventive custody in Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday.

The leaders were on their way to Kupwara to express solidarity with the family of 70-year-old Habibullah Khan, whose killing sparked a controversy, when they were detained at Mirgund, 25-km from Srinagar.

Mr. Malik, his deputy Bashir Ahmad Bhat and eight others were taken into preventive custody as police apprehended their presence in Kupwara might result in a law and order problem, official sources said.

A murder case had been registered against some army personnel in connection with the killing of Khan allegedly in a fake encounter last Wednesday.

The killing triggered a controversy with the army and the family making conflicting claims over the death of the elderly person.

Incensed over the killing, the locals staged massive protests demanding an inquiry and speedy action against the guilty.

The body of the deceased was exhumed and handed over to his kin for re-burial at the family graveyard at Devar village in Lolab.

Condemning the detention of JKLF leaders, a spokesman of the outfit said “it is unfortunate the local administration is preventing us from visiting the bereaved family.”

Union Minister and ruling National Conference president Farooq Abdullah said the State government would take up the killing of Khan with the Army chief during his coming visit to Kashmir valley.

“The Army Chief is coming here and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah will take up the issue with him. He will try to make sure that culprits are brought to book,” Mr. Farooq said on the sidelines of a function here, on Sunday.