Crackdown on Shabir Shah’s party
18 March 2000
Srinagar: Police today apprehended over two dozen activists of the separatist Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) and launched a manhunt for its president, Shabir Shah, who has gone underground. Shabir Shah had already made it public through press that he would be leading a demonstration of 400 DFP activists to New Delhi on March 18 in order to draw the attention of the visiting US President Bill Clinton towards Kashmir. He had plans of staging protest demonstrations against the alleged abuse of human rights by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, besides seeking interview with the members of the American delegation. As the DFP activists assembled at a local hotel, rather clandestinely, Shabir Shah disappeared from his Sanat Nagar residence on Friday itself. Early this morning, police contingents swooped on his house and conducted raids and searches on his possible hideouts but failed to get any clue of his whereabouts till late tonight. Shah’s wife, Dr Bilquees, told EXCELSIOR that policemen occupied her house and refused to budge an inch while saying that they would stay put untill her husband would surface anywhere in town. She said that a number of the houses of Shah’s relatives and friends were raided and a police contingent even occupied the house of Shah’s brother-in-law, who happens to be a Judge. Even as police failed to identify the whereabouts of Shah and company, on a tip-off it raided Hotel Taj at Budshah Chowk this evening and took into custody at least 23 DFP activists who were planning to leave for New Delhi. Earlier, police had arrested Shah’s driver as also an employee of the DFP office at Rajbagh. Official sources said that police were under the orders of apprehending anybody trying to go to New Delhi for creating trouble.