Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq along with some other separatist leaders was placed under house arrest on Friday ahead of a Friday congregation address by him in Srinagar.
A posse of police and paramilitary forces cordoned the house of the Mirwaiz at Nageen on Thursday evening and informed him this morning that he could not venture out of his residence as he has been placed under house arrest, officials said. Authorities also placed under house arrest other separatist leaders including spokesman of moderate Hurriyat Conference Syed Saleem Geelani, provincial president of the separatist amalgam Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Hakim Abdul Rashid and chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Forum Javid Ahmad Mir.
The step comes a day after the separatists asked the people to stay away from Lok Sabha elections. "Elections are no substitute to the wishes of the people of Kashmir. We will boycott the elections till Kashmir issue is resolved", the Mirwaiz had said. The amalgam had only last week announced that it will not call for a poll boycott for the first time in 15 years. The April 16 statement by Maulvi Mohammad Abbas Ansari, who was the acting chairman of the Hurriyat in the Mirwaiz's absence, had drawn a sharp reaction from Pakistan occupied Kashmir-based United Jehad Council, an amalgam of 13 terrorist outfits which had called for the boycott of the polls.
Similar restrictions were imposed on Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik on Thursday. Malik, who led an anti-election rally in Pulwama district on Tuesday, was placed under house arrest at his Maisuma residence in the heart Srinagar. Earlier on April 12, chairman of hardline faction of Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani was placed under house arrest while over a dozen separatists including spokesman of the hardline faction of the amalgam Ayaz Akbar were arrested. Almost all separatist and militant outfits have rejected the elections as a "futile exercise" and urged people to boycott the polls.
Geelani has also called for a complete shutdown on the polling days when the three Lok Sabha seats Anantnag, Srinagar and Baramulla of Kashmir valley will go to polls on April 30, May 7 and May 13, respectively. Despite a similar boycott call by separatists, a record turnout was witnessed during the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir last year.