The Centre on Thursday declared the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir group an “unlawful association” for a period of five years for activities “prejudicial to internal security and public order”.

In a notification, the Ministry of Home Affairs said the group has the potential to disrupt the unity and integrity of the country. The government claimed the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir is in close touch with militant outfits and supports extremism and militancy.

The government said if the group’s activities are not curbed immediately, it is likely to “escalate its subversive activities including attempt to carve out an Islamic State out of the territory of Union of India”, continue advocating the secession of Jammu and Kashmir, and propagate “anti-national and separatist” sentiments.

Jamaat-e-Islami is a socio-religious political organisation active in Jammu and Kashmir. The Kashmir branch broke away from Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and was founded in 1953.

From 1965 to 1987, the organisation participated in elections including Assembly as well as Parliamentary elections. Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani won elections as a Jamaat-e-Islami candidate from Sopore in the 1970s and 1980s. It was one of the prime opponents of Indira-Abdullah accord of 1975, earning it its first-ever ban from the government. However, since the onset of militancy in 1989, the organisation actively got engaged with separatist politics. While it was widely believed to be the ideological parent the pro-Pakistan militant group, Hizbul Mujahideen, the Jamaat distanced itself from them in 1997.

This is the third time in its history that Jamaat-e-Islami has been banned. In 1990, after militancy broke spread, the organisation was banned for the second time for allegedly encouraging “unlawful activities”.

Since Friday, the Jammu and Kashmir Police has launched a massive crackdown on the leaders of Jamaat by arresting close to 400 of its members.