Another cleric held in Kashmir in new crackdown on religious groups

Another cleric held in Kashmir in new crackdown on religious groups
Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir government on Saturday detained a firebrand speaker and preacher Sarjan Barkati in an ongoing crackdown against religious groups in Kashmir.

On Saturday, Barkati was arrested in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir. One of his family members said Barkati was detained in the early hours.

Family said they were told that he has been booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA). The PSA allows detention without trial for up to two years.

Barkati was arrested during 2016 protests that erupted over the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. He was released after four years.

Two days ago J&K government arrested at least two influential clerics Abdul Rashid Dawoodi and Moushtaq Ahmad Veeri, and five activists of banned Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) who were later booked under PSA.

The government is silent on the reasons over the latest crackdown against the religious groups.

However, sources said they have booked for their “religious sermons” that could “radicalise” people, especially youngsters.

On Friday former J&K chief minister and the PDP president Mehbooba Mufti while reacting to the arrests said it reflects the “communal” mindset of the BJP.

“If normalcy as claimed by GOI has indeed returned to J&K with zero incidents of stone pelting & other activities considered anti-national, why are they booking religious scholars under draconian laws like PSA? Outrightly condemn such actions that reflect BJPs communal mindset,” tweeted Mehbooba Mufti.

Meanwhile, Muttahida Majlis-e-Ulema (MMU), an amalgam of several religious bodies, condemned the latest arrests of Islamic scholars.

The MMU in a statement said during the last two days, arresting more than half a dozen religious scholars and preachers of Kashmir and booking them under PSA is condemnable.

“It said that not only are these actions by the authorities unjustified but are causing severe anger among the people as well,” the statement said.

UNI

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