Security cover of 4 separatist leaders withdrawn

The governor’s administration Sunday removed the security cover and “government-provided facilities” to four resistance leaders including the chairman of Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, days after union home minister Rajnath Singh hinted at reviewing the security being provided to “certain elements” in Kashmir.
Security cover of 4 separatist leaders withdrawn
File Photo

The governor's administration Sunday removed the security cover and "government-provided facilities" to four resistance leaders including the chairman of Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, days after union home minister Rajnath Singh hinted at reviewing the security being provided to "certain elements" in Kashmir.

"In view of recent attack on CRPF convoy at Lethpora, Pulwama, in which 40 CRPF men lost their lives, the government of India has emphasised the need to immediately review the wastage of police resources in providing unnecessary security to a large number of non-government persons in the state. This is particularly relevant in the context of security provided to separatists and their sympathisers," read an order issued by principal secretary, Home department, ShaleenKabra.

The order vide No 171-Home/ISA/2019 dated 17.02.2019 further reads: "In this regard, a separate review meeting is called on Wednesday at 4 pm in the civil secretariat, Jammu. As a first step, the security and allied arrangements provided to the following are hereby withdrawn immediately: Moulvi Umar Farooq son of late Moulvi Farooq Ahmad; Professor Abdul GaniBhat son of HabibullahBhat; Bilal Gani Lone son of Late Ab Gani Lone and Shabir Ahmad Shah son of Ghulam Muhammad Shah."

During his visit to Srinagar Friday, a day after a powerful blast killed more than 40 central reserve police force (CRPF) personnel along the Srinagar-Jammu highway, Rajnath alleged that "certain elements" were taking money from the Pakistan and ISI and that he had directed the state administration to go for "security review of such people". 

In a statement Sunday, an official spokesman said a decision has been taken to withdraw the security cover of four separatist leaders, including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Abdul GaniBhat, Bilal Gani Lone, and Shabir Ahmad Shah.

"All security and vehicles provided to them will stand withdrawn by today (Sunday) evening. No security forces or cover should be provided, under any pretext, to them or any other separatist," the statement read. "If they have any other facilities provided by the government, they are to be withdrawn forthwith".

The statement said that the police headquarters would review "if there are any other separatists who have government security or facilities so that their cover is also withdrawn". The previous PDP-BJP government had already trimmed the security cover of Mirwaiz after a deputy superintendent of police Muhammad Ayoub was lynched to death outside Jamia Masjid, Srinagar, in 2017. Till the incident, Mirwaiz had a Z-security cover. 

At present, a source said, Mirwaiz didn't have more than eight security men guarding him while as two vehicles were also provided to him to ferry his personal security guards.

Similarly, Abdul GaniBhat had five to six guards and two vehicles, while Bilal Lone was provided with four personal guards and one vehicle. 

Regarding Shabir Ahmed Shah, who has been languishing in New Delhi's Tihar jail for the past more than a year, his Democratic Freedom Party said he enjoyed no security cover. "He was never provided with any security by the government," a party spokesman said.

The resistance leaders who still have a security cover include Moulana Abbas Ansari and FazalHaq Qureshi of Hurriyat Conference (M), Aga Syed Al Mousavi Al Safavi of Hurriyat Conference (G). 

A police officer said in total, a close to 45 PSOs and 22 vehicles were provided to various separatist leaders.

The withdrawal of security of separatists triggered a debate on social networking sites, with netizens asking the BharatiyaJanata Party (BJP) general secretary Ram Madhav as to why the security of Syed Ali Geelani and Muhammad Yasin Malik wasn't withdrawn as well.   While replying to a series of such tweets, Madhav wrote back: "Geelani and Malik don't have the security and Geelani is under house arrest".

HURRIYAT (M) REACTS 

Soon after the government announced withdrawal of security of Mirwaiz and other separatist leaders, the Hurriyat Conference (M) said the leaders belonging to the organisation had never asked for security from the government.  "Hurriyat leaders had never asked for security and it was the government that insisted on keeping the (police) personnel based on their threat perception," said a Hurriyat (M) spokesman. 

"The government and its propagandist anti-Kashmir media had repeatedly been raking-up the issue of police personnel provided to resistance leadership to politicise, knowing well it has no bearing nor can it in any way change the reality of the lingering Kashmir dispute or the situation on ground or our principled stand and outlook regarding its resolution".

The spokesman said the issue of Kashmir will remain the same "with or without these police personnel at Hurriyat residence". 

The spokesman said whenever the security issue has taken a center-stage, Mirwaiz has repeatedly said from the pulpit of Jamia Masjid that the government can withdraw it. The spokesman said it (security) was government's decision that time and today "it's again the government's decision only to remove it. It's not an issue for us".

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