India arrests high Kashmiri chief amid crackdown

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir

Top Kashmiri resistance leader Yasin Malik was arrested on Thursday amid a wider crackdown in Jammu and Kashmir by Indian authorities. 

The pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief was booked under the controversial Public Safety Act which could imprison him for up to two years without a trial.

He was sent to Kot Balwal jail in Jammu city from a police station where he had been detained since late last month.

The arrest comes after the Indian government banned religio-socio-political organization Jamaat-e-Islami and nabbed over 300 of its members following a bombing in Kashmir on Feb. 14 that killed at least 40 Indian troops.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who heads a faction of the pro-Pakistani Hurriyat Conference, condemned the arrest.

“Strongly condemn slapping of draconian PSA and shifting to #KotBalwalJail Jammu of Yasin Malik and others,” Mirwaiz tweeted.

The resistance leadership called for a complete shutdown in the region on Friday in a reaction to the arrest.

Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China. 

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir. 

Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire came into effect in 2003. 

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan. 

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.