ISLAMABAD - The top Kashmiri leadership in the Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) was detained following a crackdown launched on Saturday, seemingly to foil the preparations for the Kashmir Solidarity Day being observed in Pakistan and both sides of Line of Control (LoC) today (Sunday).

The leading political representatives put to house-arrests during the raids in Srinagar included All Parties Hurriyat Conference (Gilani faction) Chairman Syed Ali Gilani, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chairman Yasin Malik, APHC (Mirwaiz faction) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Khawaja Bilal Ghani Lone, Afzal Ghani Bhatt, Abbas Ansari, Abbas Lone and Sarmad Dar. Reportedly, these leaders were forcefully confined to homes after the imposition of curfew and launch of evening search operations. Reports from the Occupied Valley suggested the imposition of a 24-hour curfew from 6 pm Saturday.

Marked as an expression of solidarity with the Kashmiris in pursuit of their right to independence, the Solidarity Day in Pakistan is observed in Azad Jammu and Kashmir as well as IHK as the Kashmiris extend gratitude to the people of Pakistan for their support to their just cause.

Talking to The Nation from Srinagar, JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik said scores of political activists and youths were unlawfully detained by the Indian troops to sabotage the day. “It’s not a new practice though, it’s adding to our frustration, rage and vengeance that already exceeded the limit. I don’t know why these troops get into futile exercise of kidnapping, arrest and detention when they know that we celebrate the day each year, despite all-out coercive tactics.”

Malik slammed the United Nations, human rights groups and international bodies for their silence on, what he termed, gross human rights abuses in Kashmir. “The UN can see a lot of bloodshed in Syria, Libya and Yemen, but they can’t notice how people are getting killed here. We’ve sacrificed thousands of our brothers and sisters only because we dared ask for independence from India. Is that too big a crime?”

The Kashmiri leader regretted that the Indian telecom authorities disrupted the provisions of cellular and landline network coverage to Kashmiri leaders to prevent them from addressing the Kashmiri supporters by phone every year on February 5. “All of them are united against us but deterring tactics are bound to fail,” he promised.

The curfew-affected areas in the IHK largely included central neighbourhoods of Srinagar like Hassanabad, Sanwar, Banawari, Alamgir Bazaar, Lal Bazaar, Hazratbal, Dalgate, Lal Chowk, Kamarwari and Parimpora. Reports of curfew were also received from the other areas of the IHK including Anantnag, Pulwama, Kupwara, Baramula, Leh, Poonch and Budgam.

Central APHC leader in Islamabad Syed Yousuf Naseem believed that it was a high time for Pakistan to use diplomatic corridors to actively take up the Kashmir cause at different international forums. “Time is ripe to pursue the case. There is growing realisation in the international community that independence is a just demand of Kashmiris. Pakistan needs to actively lobby on Kashmir issue at UN, ASIAN, EU, OIC, ICJ and every related platform. Unfortunately, the role of UN on Kashmir speaks volumes of its helplessness, but we should keep pursuing this just cause.”

Naseem said the APHC convoys had left for Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar and other cities in connection with the Solidarity Day.

When approached by phone, the IHK Government Spokesman GA Wani told The Nation that detentions and house arrests were made by the regular Indian troops using Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

“The Jammu and Kashmir government has nothing to do with this. They (Indian Army) do not report to us. Being Kashmiris, we fully respect the spirit and enthusiasm of our brothers and encourage the celebration of any event here.”

Meanwhile, the political parties and public at large are set to celebrate Solidarity Day in different parts of Pakistan and AJK, especially Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi, Muzaffarabad and Mirpur. The authorities have finalised the plan to create a human chain at Kohala Bridge today that connects Pakistan with the AJK.

One-minute silence will be observed at 10 am today throughout the country in connection with Kashmir Solidarity Day.