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January 21, 2018
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Kashmir: three separatists releasedThe government also allowed Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik to visit volatile Handwara

Coinciding with Centre’s special representative Dineshwar Sharma’s stay in Kashmir, three senior separatists leaders were released from jails.

In an apparent move to soft pedal on separatists for time being, the government also allowed Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik to visit volatile Handwara, while an NIA summon to Syed Ali Geelani’s son was cancelled “without citing any reason”.

Muslim League chairman and former Hizbullah commander Mushtaq-ul-Islam, arrested in July this year, was released on Wednesday.

Two days ago, Dukhtaran-e-Millat chief Syedah Asiya Andrabi and secretary Sofi Fehmeeda were also released.

The government also allowed JKLF chief Yasin Malik to meet the families, who relatives died in counter-insurgency operations, in volatile Handwara. Otherwise, the government has been consistently placing the separatist leaders under the house arrest.

At the same time, the NIA summon to Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chairman Geelani’s son Naseem Geelani was also cancelled on Tuesday “without citing any reason”.

Ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) downplayed these developments. “These releases were as part of the due process of law,” PDP minister Nayeedm Akhtar told The Media.

However, Mr. Andrabi was quick to add: “This should help in creating a conducive atmosphere”.

On these events coinciding with Mr. Sharma’s visit, Mr. Andrabi said, “This (Mr. Sharma’s initiative) is not ornamental or anger management process but a take-off point to reach out people of Kashmir to end alienation.”

Both the factions of the Hurriyat refused to comment on the releases. However, the spokesman of Democratic Front Party, whose chief Shabir Shah was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate earlier this year, said, “Releasing political prisoners is a positive step and the positive steps always bring positive results. It is of utmost importance to take positive steps to bring a change on the grass root level.”

Sharma leaves for Jammu

After a two-day stay in Valley, Mr. Sharma left for Jammu on Wednesday and met Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti there.

“Mr. Sharma briefed the Chief Minister about his consultations with a cross section of society during his present stay in the State,” said an official.

Earlier in the day, he met a few delegations in Srinagar.

PDP general secretary (Youth) Engineer Nazir Ahmad Yatoo, who met the interlocutor, said, “The role of NIA should be restricted in J&K. It’s being seriously viewed by public at large and the NIA action undermines the state’s institutions like J&K Police.”