Senior separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Shabir Ahmed Shah were placed under house arrest on Friday morning while another, Masrat Alam, was taken into preventive custody.
Although no reason was given for the step, officials said the move was taken as a precautionary measure in view of tension in the valley over remarks attributed to Pope Benedict XVI criticising Prophet Mohammed.
Two police contingents simultaneously laid a cordon around the Hyderpora and Rawalpora residences of hard-line Hurriyat faction chairperson Geelani and president of Democratic Freedom Party Shah at around 5 am and asked them not to venture out, sources said.
However, a Hurriyat spokesperson said Geelani was put under house arrest because he was scheduled to pay a visit to Hajan in Baramulla to lead a protest demonstration against the alleged arming of the son of slain counterinsurgent Kukka Parrey after the Friday congregation.
The police picked up Masrat Alam, chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Muslim League, a constituent of the hard-line Hurriyat faction, from Srinagar's Shaheedgunj area, they said.
Alam, who had called for holding protest demonstrations against the remarks attributed to Pope was taken into preventive custody while he was on his way to the organisation's office, the sources said, adding that the police and CRPF personnel have been put on alert.