(Eds: Updates with more info, background) Jammu, Feb 20 (PTI) The Jammu and Kashmir administration Wednesday withdrew security of 18 separatists and 155 political leaders, including Wahid Parra, a close aide of former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, and ex-bureaucrat Shah Faesal, officials said.
Surprisingly, the names included that of pro-Pakistan separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani and JKLF chief Yaseen Malik, who had maintained that they never had any security, Shahid-ul-Islam and Nayeem Khan, who have been in jail for over a year now.
A security review meeting, which was held here under the chairmanship of state chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam, took the decision as it was felt that providing security to these separatist leaders is a “wastage” of scarce state resources which could be better utilised elsewhere, an official spokesperson said.
Besides Geelani, Malik, Islam and Khan, the others named in the list are Aga Syed Mosvi, Maulvi Abbas Ansari and his son Masroor, Saleem Geelani, Zaffar Akbar Bhat, Mukhtar Ahmad Waza, Farooq Ahmed Kichloo, Aga Syed Abul Hussain, Abdul Gani Shah and Mohd Musadiq Bhat.
In addition, the security of 155 political persons and activists, who did not require the security provided to them based on their threat assessment and activities, was also withdrawn.
According to the officials, the list mainly comprises leaders from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), an ally of the BJP in the state government till June last year.
This includes Faesal, the 2010 IAS topper who quit bureaucracy to join politics, PDP leader Wahid Parra and Salman Reshi, the officials said.
Through this, over 1,000 police personnel and over 100 vehicles are freed to do regular police work, they said.
It was not immediately clear whose security had been withdrawn and downgraded.
The process of withdrawal of security began this Sunday when the state administration had taken away the security of four separatist leaders, including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
The decision comes in the aftermath of the February 14 Pulwama terror attack in which 40 paramilitary personnel were killed, officials said here.
Besides Mirwaiz, the security cover of Abdul Gani Bhat, Bilal Lone and Shabir Shah has been withdrawn, they said.
While there was no categorisation of security for these leaders, the state government in consultation with the Centre had provided them ad hoc security, keeping in mind the threat to their lives from some militant groups.
Militants of Hizbul Mujahideen had killed Umar’s father, Mirwaiz Farooq, in 1990 and Abdul Gani Lone in 2002.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, during his visit to Srinagar on last Friday, had said security given to people getting funds from Pakistan and its snooping agency ISI should be reviewed.
“Some elements in Jammu and Kashmir have links with the ISI and terrorist organisations. Their security should be reviewed,” he had said after reviewing security in the aftermath of the dastardly terror attack.
Forty CRPF personnel were killed and five injured on Thursday in one of the deadliest terror strikes in Jammu and Kashmir when a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber blew up an explosive-laden vehicle near their bus in Pulwama district.
The bus was part of a convoy of 78 vehicles carrying CRPF personnel from Jammu to Srinagar.
Hurriyat spokesman had termed the government order propaganda and said it has no bearing on the Kashmir dispute or the situation on the ground and it can in no way change the reality.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.