India

Top Kashmir separatist leader arrested

Senior Kashmiri separatist leader Masarat Alam looks on at his home in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, 09 March 2015 Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mr Alam was released from prison last month

Police in Indian-administered Kashmir have arrested a prominent separatist leader just a month after his release from his prison.

They say Masarat Alam has been encouraging his supporters to wave Pakistan flags in the disputed valley.

He was arrested from his home in Srinagar city on Friday.

He ended a four-year jail term last month for violent protests in 2010 against Indian rule in Kashmir in which more than 100 people were killed.

Mr Alam is a member of the Hurriyat Conference - the political umbrella of separatist groups in Indian-administered Kashmir.

His release had sparked protests from India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which shares power with the regional People's Democratic Party (PDP) in Jammu and Kashmir state.

Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said his party would continue to release separatist leaders from jail to start a new phase of peace talks in the state. But the BJP complained that Mr Mufti did not consult its leaders before taking the decision.

Reports say Mr Alam's supporters had waved Pakistani flags and raised pro-Pakistan slogans at a meeting on Wednesday to welcome senior separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who returned home from Delhi after three months.

Federal Home Minister Rajnath Singh had demanded "stringent action" against Mr Alam and said: "We cannot tolerate Pakistan's flag in India... We asked to take strong action against this".

"Arrest is nothing new for us... this is not happening for the first time. This detention will not deter us," Mr Alam told NDTV news channel on Friday, as he was being led away by the police.

On Thursday, Mr Alam and several top separatist leaders were placed under house arrest to prevent them for leading anti-India protests in the Tral area of south Kashmir where a civilian man was allegedly killed in firing by soldiers earlier this week.

Kashmir, claimed by both India and Pakistan in its entirety, has been a flashpoint for more than 60 years and the South Asian rivals have fought two wars over the region.

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