Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir criticised the Centre’s decision to ban the Yasin Malik-led Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act on Friday.

The Front was banned for allegedly promoting secessionist activities in Jammu and Kashmir. The front’s chief, Yasin Malik, is under arrest and is currently lodged in Jammu’s Kot Balwal jail.

Peoples Democratic Party chief and former state chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said the ban is a detrimental step. “Yasin Malik renounced violence as a way of resolving Jammu and Kashmir issue a long time ago,” Mufti tweeted. “He was treated as a stakeholder in a dialogue initiated by then PM [Atal Bihari] Vajpayee ji. What will a ban on his organisation achieve? Detrimental steps like these will only turn Kashmir into an open air prison.”

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said: “For [four and a half] years Yasin Malik isn’t a threat, Jamaat Islami isn’t a threat, Pakistan National Day is a function that must be attended. Now suddenly once an election is announced an immediate U-turn is executed.”

Earlier on Friday, India had decided to boycott the National Day reception at the Pakistani High Commission to oppose the invitations sent to several Kashmiri separatist leaders.

National Conference youth president Salman Sagar said the ban on the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front “has weakened the idea of secular and federal India”.

“Due to these events it’s difficult for the mainstream parties to plant the seeds of faith among masses regarding Indian democracy. May good sense prevail upon people at the helm,” said Sagar.

Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq denounced the ban. “Such anti-Kashmir tactics will not change the reality of the Kashmir issue nor the urgency to resolve it,” he tweeted.