Former chief minister Farooq Abdullah's brother, nephew and elder sister are among several Kashmiri leaders who have claimed their lives are under threat after their security has been withdrawn by the authorities. Former minister and National Conference leader Mustafa Kamal, his sister Khalida Shah, and nephew and Awami National Conference (ANC) vice president Muzafar Ahmad Shah have written to the police saying the authorities will be held responsible if anything happens to them.
They said they'd filed a petition before the high court asking to be released from house arrest, but the court was told they were not facing any curbs on movement outside their homes. Both Shah and Kamal said that not only were they disallowed from meeting any of their relatives, including Farooq and his son, Omar Abdullah, their security was also withdrawn.
Farooq, Omar, also a former chief minister, and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, are among several leaders under detention since 5 August, when the announcement was made by Central government to scrap Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Muzafar, son of former chief minister GM Shah, was vocal in opposing the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status which barred non-residents from buying land and property in Kashmir. He formed a civil society co-ordination committee which filed applications before the Supreme Court opposing the abrogation of special status.
Muzafar, Khalida and Kamal have also raised concerns that their security was downgraded after the state was divided into two union territories (UTs) of Ladakh and Jammu Kashmir.
Kamal and Muzafar said that they raised the issue after the authorities informed the Jammu and Kashmir High Court recently that they were “free to move anywhere” and are not under house detention, like several other leaders. Besides them, some leaders from PDP and Congress, who were recently released from detention, have also said that their security has been reduced and they are also facing curbs on movement.
The government has begun to release several middle and lower-rung mainstream politicians following the increased traffic on the roads and opening of shops for few hours during the day in Srinagar city and other areas of Kashmir. Hundreds of youths, however, continue to remain under detention for taking part in anti-India and pro-freedom protests in Kashmir which erupted earlier after the revocation of special status.
Kamal said that his security “escort” has been withdrawn and he was not allowed to move outside his residence in Srinagar even as the authorities informed the court that he was not under house detention. “I wanted to meet my brother, Farooq Abdullah, as well as Omar, but my security has been withdrawn. The escort of a gypsy vehicle and five policemen has been withdrawn since 5 August,” he said.
Additional Director General of Police, Muneer Ahmad Khan, however, said that the “escort and security was given as per categorisation. If the leaders are entitled for that, we will provide it to them.” He said that the authorities will review their eligibility for security.
Muzafar said that he was informed on Wednesday by the security personnel deployed at his residence that he was no longer under detention. He, however, said that not only was his security withdrawn, but he was also not allowed to meet his aunt and Farooq Abdullah’s sister Suraya, yesterday. The letter by him and his mother to the police notes that they have been informed by the security at their residence that they have to inform the police station Kothibagh before they plan to venture out of their house. It also notes that they have been conveyed not to hold any press conference or a public meeting. They have sought the permission from police to visit their family members at New Delhi next week.
Muzafar said that his mother Khalida, the eldest daughter of NC founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, and he were having Z-category security, but their vehicles have been withdrawn and their attempts to meet Farooq and Omar have also been foiled by the police. He said that they were not allowed to move out of their house and were informed that their escort and bullet-proof security vehicle has been withdrawn.
Former PDP MLA Noor Mohammad, who was released from detention to attend the marriage of his daughter, said his security has been withdrawn. “Some five to six security deployed at my residence at Lawaypora in Srinagar have been withdrawn. I have only three personnel security officers (PSOs) and my escort has also been removed. I am only moving out of house if there is an emergency-like situation.”
Congress state president GA Mir said that he was not allowed to travel to Srinagar and was even barred from organising party meetings in Jammu. “The security of BJP leaders has been enhanced. Other mainstream leaders were not only detained, but even as some of them were released their security was curtailed. On 4 October, I was told by the authorities that I was free to move in Jammu province, but I am not even allowed to move outside Jammu city.”
“Before 5 August, I was provided Z-category security which has been withdrawn. I have only one PSO to protect me now. I had one bullet-proof vehicle and double escort in Kashmir and single escort in Jammu, but that has been withdrawn. I was protected by at least 6 to 10 security personnel while I used to move outside from house, which has stopped now,” he added.
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Updated Date: Nov 15, 2019 20:57:29 IST