BJP, separatist leaders arrested for trying to hoist flag

Srinagar: A number of BJP activists and leaders of separatist groups including JKLF were arrested today for violating prohibitory orders as Jammu and Kashmir government foiled their plans to hoist flag at Lal Chowk, which was turned into a fortress.

At least 16 separatist leaders, including JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik, were arrested as they tried to march towards Lal Chowk here to hoist the party flag on Clock Tower.

"Malik and other leaders including Bilal Gani Lone and Shahidul Islam of (moderate) Hurriyat Conference were arrested as they were marching towards Lal Chowk," a spokesman of the JKLF told PTI.

He said the separatist leaders started the march from Maisuma locality towards Lal Chowk around noon.

Police intercepted the leaders and took them into custody.

Malik, Lone and several other separatists had gone into hiding over the weekend as they apprehended arrest by police to foil their `Lal Chowk chalo` march.

The JKLF chairman had called for the march to Clock Tower to counter the BJP`s plan to hoist the national flag.

The state government made unprecedented security arrangements to foil their plans.

Earlier in the day, a BJP supporter appeared at Regal Chowk, less than 100 yards from Clock Tower at Lal Chowk, carrying a national flag, officials said.

Srikant, a resident of Gurgaon in Haryana, was apprehended before he could make his way to the venue for hoisting the flag and was taken to Kothibagh police station.

Six other BJP activists were arrested near a hotel here for violating prohibitory orders, the officials said.

All of them were from outside the state. They have been identified as K M Reddy (Bangalore), S Varman (Assam), S Bose (Kolkata), B Bakshipatra (Orrisa), Rajesh Chaudhry (Lucknow) and Sresh Wadia (Gujarat).

In a late night swoop, police had rounded up at least 16 activists of BJP from Rajbagh and Jawahar Nagar areas of the city as they were reportedly planning to march towards Lal Chowk.

Some more BJP activists and leaders, including three MLAs of the party, were arrested in the run up to the Republic Day celebrations since last Saturday.

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