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Concerns of shrinking space for a dialogue between India and Kashmir loom large on air after Centre banned separatist leader Muhammad Yasin Malik led Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) on Friday (March 22), the second party to be banned in the state in a month’s time after Jama’at-e-Islamia, citing ‘extremism and militancy’ as their modus operandi.

Malik was arrested from his residence in Srinagar almost a month back by the police.

The recent actions by the Centre in Kashmir indicate that the Union ministry is going after valley based separatist groups ahead of Lok Sabha polls which begin from April 11.

The outfit has been imposed with a ban of five years under the anti-terror law, on the grounds that it was in “close touch with militant outfits” and involved in “anti-national and subversive activities” intended to disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India.

All mainstream political parties in Kashmir, as well as popular figures from the state including Sajad Lone and Mehbooba Mufti, condemned the ban cautioning the centre of the negative impacts it could trigger on the relationship between India and Kashmir.

“JKLF renounced violence in the 90s. It was tantamount to suicide. At great risk, Yasin Malik took the decision. And now stands banned,” Lone tweeted. Lone was with the BJP’s ally in the previous government.

Mehbooba Mufti further reminded the Centre of the role of Malik in the dialogue process initiated by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “What will a ban on his organisation achieve? Detrimental steps like these will turn Kashmir into an open prison,” she said.

However, the centre defended the move saying that the arrest would help to prevent further escalation of secessionist movements and violence in the country.

After the ban, the members affiliated to JKLF are facing a possible arrest.

The intense crackdown in Kashmir began after the Pulwama car-bomb attack on February 14 which killed 40 CRPF jawans.

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