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Muslim Delegation Urges J&K LG to Release Clerics Arrested in Ongoing Crackdown

Anees Zargar |
Over the last two days, nearly a dozen clerics and religious leaders from the banned outfit Jamaat e Islami (JeI) have been arrested in a series of crackdowns.
 Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha

Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha. Image Courtesy: NDTV

Srinagar: A group of religious leaders on Monday met with Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha to raise the issue of the ongoing arrest of clerics leading to fear and apprehension among people in Jammu and Kashmir.  

The group representing over 30 religious bodies included Ghulam Rasool Hami of the Karvan e Islam, Bashir Ahmad Dar from the Haqqani Memorial Trust, Ghulam Mohiuddin Naqeeb, Moulana Showkat Hussain Keng and others. 

Sufi scholar Moulana Hami told NewsClick that the delegation raised various issues, including the fresh wave of arrests of religious leaders in the region. 

“We spoke to the Lt. Governor about arrests, including that of the Moulana Abdul Raheed Dawoodi. We discussed the surge of apprehension amongst the people due to the arrests and talked about the release of clerics,” Hami said.  

Over the last two days, nearly a dozen clerics and leaders from the banned outfit Jamaat e Islami (JeI) have been arrested in fresh crackdowns. 

The police have so far detained prominent religious preachers from South Kashmir, including Moulana Abdul Rasheed Dawoodi and Moulana Mushtaq Veeri, last Thursday and later booked them under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA). In the latest, former JeI chief Dr Hameed Fayaz was arrested on Sunday, according to official sources. His arrest comes after the detention of other JeI members such as Advocate Zahid Ali, Moulana Tariq Rehman and Moulana Gazi Moiunudin. 

Hami, however, added that they were hopeful about the release of clerics after Monday’s meeting with the LG in Srinagar. “He told us that anyone who is innocent will be released and that no one will be harassed without reason,” Hami said. 

Authorities also arrested noted preacher Sarjan Barkati, whose family said that he had not appeared in any religious gathering recently. Barkati was released after serving a four-year-long detention for his alleged participation in ‘pro-freedom’ protests in 2016. 

Earlier on Sunday, Kashmir Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Vijay Kumar told reporters that the clerics were found to be involved in “instigating” the youth and were given multiple warnings. 

“We called them several times to convince them, but they did not relent and have been booked under the PSA,” Kumar said. The police officer said that there will be more such arrests in view of the reports that many other clerics are also involved in a similar practice, and they will be booked after evidence is gathered. 

The arrests, however, were widely condemned by many in the region including leaders from the mainstream political parties who claimed that such measures are likely to only worsen the situation in the restive territory. 

The fresh wave of arrests was also condemned by Muttahida Majlis-e-Ulema (MMU), an amalgam of over 30 social and religious organisations, and separatist group Muslim League Jammu Kashmir who termed it “unjustified”, in an attempt to “stifle” the voice of the people in the region. 

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