By Zahid Rafiq
SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir (AA) - Indian government on Friday banned Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), a pro-independence group, for “promoting secessionist activities” in the disputed region.
“The central government today declared JKLF as an unlawful association under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. This is in accordance with our policy of zero tolerance against terrorism,” India’s Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba told the media.
“JKLF is involved in anti-national and subversive activities intended to disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India,” India’s Home Ministry said in the order banning the group.
Yasin Malik, head of the major pro-independence outfit, has been under arrest since last month.
The ban on the JKLF is part of the recent crackdown by India on pro-independence groups in the region. Last month, Indian government banned the socio-political and religious organization Jamaat-e-Islami, and arrested over 300 members of the group and other pro-independence activists.
The decision for the ban on the JKLF was announced after a high level security meeting headed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The resistance leadership in the region denounced the ban and said it would not change the political reality of Kashmir.
“Strongly denounce the ban on JKLF after JeI [Jamaat-e-Islami]. Such anti-Kashmir tactics will not change the reality of the Kashmir issue nor the urgency to resolve it,” Kashmiri top cleric and Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar tweeted.
Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- two of them over Kashmir.
Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire came into effect in 2003.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.