The Jammu and Kashmir Police has arrested 13 youths on sedition charges over slogans raised at Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid after Friday prayers.
The police also said it was preparing a Public Safety Act (PSA) dossier against them and may book more people. The draconian law allows the detention of a person without trial for up to a year.
According to the J&K Police, a group of youths raised pro-Azadi and “anti-national” slogans at the Srinagar Grand Mosque on Friday.
In a press release, police said they had identified the 13 youths as being part of the group and charged them under Sections 124A (sedition), and 447 and 120 B (criminal conspiracy).
Read police statement: “It also came out during the initial investigation that the accused in furtherance of a well-planned conspiracy had received instructions from Pakistani handlers of terror outfits to disrupt Friday prayers in Jamia Masjid and create a law and order situation by provoking the attendees. Thus Section 120B was also invoked in this case.”
Police went on to say: “During the course of the investigation, technical means were adopted to identify these hooligans and raids were conducted at different locations, which led to the arrest of the two main instigators of the sloganeering, namely Basharat Nabi Bhat and Umar Manzoor Sheikh. Both were apprehended and formally arrested in the case. Eleven more accused were subsequently arrested who were involved in the sloganeering and hooliganism inside the Jamia Masjid and at the gate.”
“Many more suspected persons are being examined and will be formally arrested as soon as their role clearly comes forth in this case,” police said they may book more people.
The J&K authorities only recently allowed Friday prayers at the Jamia Masjid, after a long shutdown that began first with the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019.
Local media reported that more than 2000 people were present in the mosque on Friday, the largest gathering in recent times.