Indian police arrested a top separatist leader today on accusations he spearheaded months of massive protests against Indian rule in Kashmir. Masarat Alam was taken into custody this evening in a suburb in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir, a top police officer said, calling the arrest a "significant success" for government forces. "Unlike other separatists, he was leading these protests from the underground," he said.
Since June, Indian-controlled Kashmir has been rocked by violent anti-government protests and subsequent crackdowns by government forces that have killed at least 111 people, mostly teenage boys and young men in their 20s. Alam had been one of the frontline activists who rallied the protesters—who reject Indian rule and want independence or a merger with predominantly Muslim Pakistan—in the summer of 2008, when Muslim residents demonstrated against the transfer of 100 acres of land to a Hindu shrine in the Kashmir Himalayas. He was arrested after those protests were put down and released after 22 months in jail this May. (Read more Masarat Alam stories.)