Prominent separatist leaders have been either detained or placed under ‘house arrest’

Almost all prominent separatist leaders have been either detained or placed under “house arrest” ahead of the April 30 polling in the most-sensitive Srinagar-Budgam constituency in Central Kashmir even as the police on Tuesday admitted to have rounded up 600 “miscreants.”

While octogenarian separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and cleric-politician Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, who head the two factions of the Hurriyat Conference, as also Bilal Gani Lone and Abdul Gani Bhat have been put under house arrest, JKLF chairman Yasin Malik has been lodged at a police station. Thirty JKLF activists have been detained at different places.

National Front chief Nayeem Khan, Democratic Freedom Party head Shabir Shah and Peoples League chairman Mukhtar Ahmed Waza have also been detained after they were found running an anti-election campaign.

Senior police officers confirmed the detention of 600 people and told The Hindu that “200 to 300 more miscreants, stone pelters and trouble mongers” would be picked up to ensure free and fair polling.

National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party’s Tariq Hamid Qarra are the key contestants in Srinagar-Budgam which witnessed two blasts at the former’s rally venues at Khanyar and Magam on Sunday. Fifteen persons were injured in the blast at Magam.

“We are fully prepared to conduct a free and fair poll on Wednesday. All necessary arrangements are in place,” Chief Secretary Iqbal Khanday told The Hindu .