NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR: Kashmiri separatist leaders are likely to lose their security cover. The Centre has asked the Jammu & Kashmir government to assess the list of people given security in the state and prune suspects linked to Kashmiri separatists and Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI.
The decision came at a meeting chaired by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh with Union Home Secretary and senior MHA officials on Saturday afternoon.
The development comes a day after Singh said in Srinagar that the security given to people receiving funds from Pakistan and its snooping agency ISI, should be reviewed. "Some elements in Jammu and Kashmir have links with the ISI and terrorist organizations,” he had said.
The Home Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir government will carry out the review of the security of separatists and will take a decision on the level of J&K police cover they enjoy heretofore, he said.
Governor Satyapal Malik, who received the directive, formed a review committee comprising top security officials including ADGP (CID), ADGP (Security), IGP Kashmir and IGP Jammu, to assess the cases of ‘protected persons’ in Jammu and Kashmir. The committee is to review the security cover of all protected persons, including mainstream and separatist leaders in the state.
“The security given them is being revised and cover will be provided to non-suspects per the threat perception,” a top official said. “In some cases, it could be thinned and not totally withdrawn”, he added.
Separatist leaders, including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, Maulana Abbas Ansari, Bilal Gani Lone, Fazal Haq Qureshi, Aga Syed Hassan Mosavi, Salim Geelani and Zaffar Akbar Bhat, presently enjoy security.
Personal Security Officers (PSOs) were also provided to Mirwaiz’s media advisor Shahid-ul-Islam, who was arrested by NIA in a militancy funding case. After his arrest, his security cover was withdrawn.
The Jammu and Kashmir government had disclosed in February last year that over Rs 15 crores were spent on the overall security of separatist leaders in the State in the last 10 years.
The review was expected also after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called separatist leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Geelani on phone early this month. Geelani and JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik are the top separatist leaders, who don’t have security cover. They had been offered cover, which they refused.
Forty CRPF personnel were killed and five others injured on Thursday in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir when a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 100 kg of explosives into their bus in Pulwama district. The bus was part of a convoy of 78 vehicles carrying the CRPF personnel from Jammu to Srinagar.