Geelani, Other APHC Leaders Arrested
9 February 2004
Srinagar: Indian officials arrested a number of prominent Kashmiri leaders on Monday after they tried to lead a rally against the killing of five civilians by the army. Among the detainees were Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chief of a faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), Democratic Freedom Party chief Shabir Ahmad Shah and JKLF Vice Chairman Javed Ahmad Mir. They were taken into custody, along with a large number of supporters, at Safapora while they were on their way to Bandipora to attend the funeral of the five civilians killed by Indian troops on Sunday night. Local officials said the leaders had been detained as a precautionary measure. Thousands of residents took to the streets of Bandipora to protest the incident. The protesters accused the Indians of using the five as human shields. The Indian army acknowledged the civilians' deaths, but said they were hired porters caught in a crossfire. Police prevented further demonstrations on Monday, detaining 20 activists who planned to lead anti-India marches. Some of the other leading figures taken into custody were Mohammad Abdullah Tari, a close associate of Shabir Ahmad Shah, Gul Aijaz Khan, Bashir Ahmad Indrabi and Majid. Tension gripped Bandipora on Monday evening after the funerals. Prof Abdul Ghani Bhatt, a prominent Hurriyat leader, on Monday expressed concern over the use of civilians as human shield. Speaking at a demonstration, Prof Bhatt said it would have negative consequences and 'we will not accept them'. INDIAN CLAIM: The Indian army on Monday claimed killing eight militants in four shootouts across occupied Kashmir. A police spokesman alleged militants shot dead a civilian in the town of Tral.