New Delhi: The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) administration on Wednesday downgraded and withdrew the security of 18 Hurriyat leaders in the state, news agency ANI reported. In addition, the security of 155 politicians and activists was also withdrawn. The 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. Through this, over 1,000 police personnel and over 100 vehicles are freed to do regular police work.

The leaders whose security has been withdrawn included Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Aga Syed Mosvi, Maulvi Abbas Ansari, Yaseen Malik, Saleem Geelani, Shahid ul Islam, Zaffar Akbar Bhat, Nayeem Ahmed Khan, Mukhtar Ahmad Waza, Farooq Ahmed Kichloo, Masroor Abbas Ansari, Aga Syed Abul Hussain, Abdul Gani Shah and Mohd Musadiq Bhat.  (ALSO READ: Pulwama Suicide Bomber Was a 22-year-old School Dropout – All You Need to Know About Him)

A close aide of former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, Wahid Parra, is one among the 155 politicians whose security has been withdrawn. Further, the security of ex-bureaucrat Shah Faesal has also been withdrawn.

Earlier on Sunday, the state administration had issued orders to withdraw security of five separatist leaders, including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Besides the Mirwaiz, the security cover for Abdul Gani Bhat, Bilal Lone, Hashim Qureshi, and Shabir Shah was also withdrawn. (ALSO READ: Pulwama Attack Planned After Killing of JeM Chief Masood Azhar’s Nephew: Security Agencies)

The order read, “All security and vehicles provided to the separatists will stand withdrawn by Sunday evening. No security forces or cover will be provided, under any pretext, to them or any other separatists. If they have any other facilities provided by the government, they are to be withdrawn forthwith.”  (Also read: US, India Likely to Hold Meeting Over Pulwama)

The step was taken in wake of Pulwama Terror attack. The official had said that police will review if there are any other separatists who have security or facilities which will be withdrawn immediately.

The direction for this move came in after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh visit to Srinagar. He had said that the security is given to people getting funds from Pakistan and its snooping agency ISI should be reviewed.

On Tuesday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that his government would take action against perpetrators of Pulwama attack only if India provides evidence of Islamabad’s involvement. Reacting to the statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said, “We are not surprised that the Prime Minister of Pakistan refuses to acknowledge the attack on our security forces in Pulwama as an act of terrorism. He has neither chosen to condemn this heinous act nor condoled with the bereaved families.”

The deadly Pulwama attack which took place on February 14 killed 40 CRPF personnel. The jawans were returning from leave to resume their duty when a suicide bomber belonging to the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a CRPF bus. The vehicle was blown up at around 3:15 PM on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in Awantipora area of the district, nearly 30 km short of its destination – the Bakshi Stadium transit camp in Srinagar.

(With PTI inputs)