India arrests, releases Kashmiri leaders ahead of talks

India turnaround on arrest of Kashmiri leaders to prevent them meeting with Pakistani officials

India arrests, releases Kashmiri leaders ahead of talks

World Bulletin / News Desk

 Tensions have continued to build ahead of India-Pakistan security talks after India placed Kashmiri leaders under house arrests then, to much surprise, released them shortly afterwards Thursday. 

The leaders from the pro-independence Hurriyat Conference had been invited by Pakistan's High Commission in New Delhi to consult with the country's National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz, who meets Sunday with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval. 

The arrests Thursday appeared to be an attempt to prevent the Kashmiri resistance leadership from meeting Pakistani officials but was reversed two hours later.

The arrest brought angry reactions from people in Indian-occupied Kashmir, including Omar Abdullah, the former chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir state. 

"Shame on [current chief minister] Mufti Syed for arresting on demand. He had no business following his masters orders & detaining the Hurriyat leaders like this," tweeted Abdullah. "J&K State governments in the past have NEVER detained the APHC [All Parties Hurriyat Conference] leaders so as to prevent them from visiting the Pak High Commission."

India last year responded angrily to such a meeting by suspending talks to normalize relations between the two arch-rivals and neighbors. 

Pakistan has however insisted that it has always consulted with Kashmiri leaders before any meetings with India. 

By midday, all of the arrested leaders were freed to the surprise of the police and the leaders themselves. 

"We are confused ourselves at the latest development. First a heavy contingent of police was placed at the houses of our leaders and our offices. We were informed that all leaders had been placed under house arrest," said Ayaz Akbar, a spokesman for Hurriyat (G) party. "After a detention of two hours, the police suddenly started to leave."

The head of the Hurriyat (M) faction Mirwaiz Umar Farooq called the house arrest unfortunate and claimed it showed the Indian government was not sincere about pursuing peace talks. 

"We were hopeful that this would be a step toward building the right environment for any movement toward peace but the arrests showed India is not concerned about it. I do not know why we were released later and it is surprising to me, but maybe the talks came under pressure with the arrest," Mirwaiz told Anadolu Agency. 

A senior police officer also told Anadolu Agency that the decision to make the arrests were given by the government but were quickly reversed.

The divided Himalayan region of Kashmir has long been a serious point of contention in the bitter relationship between India and Pakistan. Two of the three wars the countries have fought were over Kashmir. 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Ağustos 2015, 11:35