Srinagar: Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik on Friday said that the state government was trying to "stifle dissent at the behest of Delhi" and constricting political space for separatists, even as he launched his party's 'jail-bharo' (fill-prisons) agitation.
JKLF had announced on Wednesday a 10-day 'jail-bharo' movement against non-availability of political space for separatist leaders in Kashmir.
Soon after the Friday congregational prayers, a large number of JKLF activists led by Malik marched through the uptown locality of Maisuma in summer capital Srinagar.
As the protestors reached near Budshah Chowk adjacent to the city centre, Lal Chowk, a large contingent of police and paramilitary forces stopped them.
Malik along with 10 party members courted arrest while other protestors dispersed peacefully.
"This is our peaceful and democratic reply to the government's iron-fisted attitude of chocking our political space," the senior separatist leader said.
The JKLF chairman was last week detained in South Kashmir, where he was to start his public contact programme 'Safre-Jehdi-Musalsal'.
"We are not allowed to reach out to the people. Our public contact programme was to visit villages and towns and raise awareness for peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute. We were barred to do so. But we will not remain silent," he said.
The separatist leader said that in the coming days, JKLF cadre would court arrest in other districts of Kashmir as well and a new programme of action announced thereafter.
Malik also criticised Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed and termed his slogan of 'battle of ideas' a hoax.
"Sayeed's party used to visit people killed by the army and sympathise with them. Now after getting the (chief minister's) chair, they are trying to be more loyal than the king. But this is a people's struggle and it can't die out due to suppressive measures," the chairman of pro-independence JKLF said.
Reacting to a recent remarks of union Home Minsiter Rajnath Singh about acquiring land for building separate colonies for migrant Kashmiri Pandits, Malik said that it reflected the "duplicity of the Indian government".
"India claims to be the world's largest parliamentary democracy. Despite clearly denying in Parliament any move to build separate townships for the Pandits, the new statement of home minister Rajnath Singh is absurd.
"Is India really a democratic country or a banana republic, where there is no value of things even said on the floor of Parliament", Yasin Malik remarked.
The JKLF chairman said that the migrant Pandits had every right to return to their ancestral place and live like they had before migration in the 90s.
"There can't be any compromise on issues like separate townships, permanent residence certificates and settling of refugees from west Pakistan in Jammu.
"We will fight till the last drop of our blood, but won't allow anyone to alter the state's demography as it will prove detrimental to our resistance movement," he added.