Police swooped on Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir members in Kashmir during the intervening night of Friday and Saturday, and detained around two dozen of its cadres, including its chief Abdul Hamid Fayaz, officials said in Jammu and Kashmir's Srinagar.
While the police termed the detentions as routine, officials privy to the developments said this is the first major crackdown on the organisation that is part of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, a separatist conglomerate.
The Jamaat issued a statement condemning the detentions and said "...The move is a well-designed conspiracy to pave way for further uncertainty in the region."
The Jamaat claimed that during the intervening night of February 22 and February 23, police and other agencies launched a mass arrest drive and raided many houses in the Valley, wherein dozens of its central and district level leaders were arrested, including its Ameer (chief) Jamaat Dr Abdul Hamid Fayaz and advocate Zahid Ali (spokesperson).
The Jamaat cadres were picked up from various places, including Anantnag, Pahalgham, Dialgam, Tral -- all in south Kashmir. The Jamaat termed the raids as "fishy" at a time when the Supreme Court is to hear a petition regarding Article 35A of the Constitution, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
"...The way forces personnel unleashed the spree of mass arrest and detained dozens of Jamaat members prior to the hearing seems something is hatching behind the curtains. Any attempt of eroding or tampering Article 35A is unacceptable for people of Jammu and Kashmir," it said.
Besides this, police also detained JKLF chief Yaseen Malik on Friday night. Additional troops have been also rushed to Jammu and Kashmir but no one has been able to provide reasons for such a massive deployment. The action comes eight days after an audacious terror attack on a convoy in Pulwama district in which 40 CRPF personnel lost their lives.