Not just separatists, mainstream political leaders of Kashmir valley including former IAS officer Shah Faesal and PDP leader Waheed Parra have also lost their security cover. Sources in the State Home Department told the International Business Times, India, that the list of 155 political workers and activists whose security has either been withdrwan or downgraded also includes ex-MLAs of Peoples Democratic Party and National Conference.
The state government's decision to withdraw/downgrade the security cover of the political leaders came on February 20. The government said security cover was an" additional burden on the scarce state resources, that could be utilised elsewhere."
The list also includes hardline separatist leader and Chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Conference , Syed Ali Shah Geelani, whose security has been downgraded besides 17 other separatist leaders. This is in addition to the announcement of withdrawal of security cover to four separatist leaders including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Abdul Gani Bhat, Shabir Shah and Bilal Lone.
The decision would lead to the re-adjustment of nearly 1,000 police personnel who were posted in the security teams of these leaders besides availability of 100 vehicles. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, during his recent visit to the state, had said that the government will no longer fund the security of those persons who are carrying out Pakistan's agenda in the valley and sponsoring terrorism.
Separatist leaders welcome the move
The seapartist leadership in the valley has wlecomed the state government's move and stated that the leaders never asked for the security in the first place. "I have offered the state government to withdraw my security for long. I have far more serious issues to be concerned about," Abdul Gani Bhat, a separatist leader told the News 18.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq reportedly said that hundreds of young Kashmiri boys have offered to provide him a security cover after the state government's decision. Syed Ali Shah Geelani is already placed under the house arrest and his security cover has been downgraded, a source said.
Was security cover of leaders a burden on state exchequer?
In 2018, the J&K government, in a reply to a legislator in the State Assembly, said that the state incurred a total of Rs 10 crore expenses in the past decade on the security cover of the separatist leaders. The expenses came in the form of monthly salaies paid to the Special Police Officers (SPOs) who were deployed with these leaders. The government also stated that nearly 5 lakh rupees was spent on the fuel of the vehicles from 2007-2017 of various separatist leaders in the state.