Separatists Detained As They Land In Delhi

22 August 2015
The Hindu
Mehboob Jeelani and Jatin Anand

New Delhi: Kashmiri separatist leaders Shabir Shah and Bilal Gani Lone were picked up at the Delhi airport by the police and detained at separate houses in south Delhi on Saturday, ahead of the National Security Adviser-level talks between India and Pakistan. Mr. Shah, who travelled from Srinagar to attend the reception ceremony of Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz on Sunday, was handed over to Intelligence Bureau officials, who then detained him at a guesthouse. Similarly, Mr. Lone, of the moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference, was detained and placed under police custody at his house in south Delhi. The detentions sent a strong message across the separatist camp that the government would not let them come anywhere close to the NSA talks. More arrests likely As Mr. Shah and Mr. Lone were detained in Delhi on Saturday, the Intelligence Bureau, according to sources, called back top and low rung officials who were on leave and asked them to report to the Delhi headquarters. They were briefed to keep an eye on 'sympathisers' of Kashmiri separatist politics and students from the State studying in Delhi universities and colleges. 'More detentions are likely to take place tomorrow morning,' said an IB source. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the hardline separatist leader, followed Saturday's events closely - from Mr. Shah's detention to Mr. Aziz's address and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's press conference. Since both the countries could not reconcile with the separatist question, Mr. Geelani sensed that the talks wouldn't set off. He told The Hindu that he didn't even book his air ticket to New Delhi. 'The way things have shaped up it is hard to see anything positive will happen,' said Mr. Geelani. 'Like always, India is being arrogant and uninterested in facing the reality of Kashmir.' Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the leader of moderate Hurriyat faction, expressed his sadness over the failure of the talks. 'It seems it's all over,' Mr. Farooq told The Hindu. 'We were hoping that the two countries will talk but there is so much mistrust.' Mr. Farooq said he was dismayed to see the BJP leadership backing down from the commitment of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who almost clinched a peace deal with his Pakistan. 'It seems they have completely rolled back to something which is intransigent,' he said.