An Indian court ordered Tuesday (25) that seven Kashmiri separatists be held in police custody for allegedly funding militant groups and stoking unrest in the disputed Himalayan region.
Federal agents swooped on the members of the “Hurriyat” (freedom) movement in raids across New Delhi and Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar on Monday (24).
The National Investigation Agency alleges the accused received money from Pakistan and funneled it to militant groups agitating against Indian rule in the tense region.
The Kashmir valley has been reeling from street violence since the killing of a popular rebel leader by Indian forces last July.
“We require time to question them for their role in violence,” Alok Mittal, a spokesman for the federal agency, said.
A Delhi court on Tuesday remanded them in police custody for ten days, the Press Trust of India reported.
Police allege the separatists used the cash to “wage war against India” by organising street rebellions against troops, burning schools and damaging public property.
Those arrested include the son-in-law of top separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani.
The Hurriyat — an amalgam of political and religious parties fighting for Kashmir’s independence — said the arrests were “revengeful, arbitrary and illegal” and called for mass strikes Tuesday.
Geelani, as well as another top Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, were put under house arrest in Srinagar and other parts of the city were under curfew.
More than 100 protesters, mostly young men, have been killed since last year in clashes between troops and police and Kashmiris demanding independence from India.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947 but both claim the territory in its entirety.
Rebel groups have since 1989 been fighting hundreds of thousands of Indian soldiers deployed in the region, demanding independence or a merger with Pakistan.
Armed violence had largely waned in the troubled region but over the years the conflict has increasingly drawn in civilians, with almost daily clashes between government forces and protesters.
Tens of thousands have been killed in the nearly three decades of unrest.