J&K administration releases Valley's mid and low-level politicians, eases restriction on public movement

Authorities eased restrictions on some lower and middle-rung political leaders of mainstream parties, releasing some on health grounds and freeing several others upon making a pledge that they won't take to the streets to protest the revocation of the state's special status.

Ishfaq Naseem October 26, 2019 07:51:09 IST
J&K administration releases Valley's mid and low-level politicians, eases restriction on public movement
  • Authorities eased restrictions on some lower and middle-rung political leaders of mainstream parties

  • The government has also withdrawn the advisory on the tourists that prohibited them from visiting Kashmir

  • Srinagar deputy commissioner Shahid Chaudhary said several politicians have been released

Authorities have begun to relax restrictions on public movement in Kashmir as well as release some mid-level political players. No large-scale public demonstrations have been reported for the past few weeks, and shops are remaining open for a few hours in the morning and evening at different places. The movement of private traffic has also increased even as public transport still remains off road.

JK administration releases Valleys mid and lowlevel politicians eases restriction on public movement

Locals walk past security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir. AP

Authorities eased restrictions on some lower and middle-rung political leaders of mainstream parties, releasing some on health grounds and freeing several others upon making a pledge that they won't take to the streets to protest the revocation of the state's special status.

However, several high-profile leaders, including three former chief ministers, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, and Farooq Abdullah, continue to be detained. Former minister and People’s Conference leader, Sajjad Lone, and IAS topper-turned-politician Shah Faesal continue to remain under detention at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Convocation Centre (SKICC).

Though business establishments remain closed, shops are open for few hours beginning dawn as well in the evening. Kashmiris have reacted angrily to the decision of the Central government to revoke Article 370 that allows non-state residents to buy land and property. Scores of youths were detained after pro-freedom and anti-India protests were taken out across Kashmir earlier after the abrogation of special status on 5 August.

The government has also withdrawn the tourist advisory on visiting Kashmir and also resumed post-paid mobile and landline services. However, internet services continue to remain shut, and there is no word from the government on resumption of pre-paid mobiles. Authorities have also withdrawn the prohibitory orders on the assembly of people in Kashmir. However, security barricades are visible at roads and intersections and the frisking of the commuters continues in the Valley.

PDP activist Muzafar Ahmad Wagay said he was released earlier this month after his arrest on 7 August from a government accommodation at Pulwama. “I was detained at the Shopian police station. The arrest was shocking. The PDP as a party believed in Indian Constitution,” he said. He said that while in detention, his family feared that he could be booked under the public safety act (PSA) and moved to a prison. Under the PSA people can be detained for two years without trial.

Wagay however, said it was the right of the political parties to protest the revocation of special status. “Political parties should protest the revocation of Article 370 which conferred special status on Jammu and Kashmir. It has snatched away our special identity,” he said.

Even as authorities released several political workers in Srinagar district as well as in parts of southern Kashmir, protests are not being allowed against the revocation of special status. A group of women were earlier detained in Srinagar for leading the protest against the arrest of several leaders as well as the abrogation of Article 370.

Srinagar deputy commissioner Shahid Chaudhary said several politicians have been released. “In Srinagar, very few political leaders faced detention,” he said.

Some government officials said restrictions could further ease on several other mainstream leaders who would be freed after 31 October as the power would be transferred from the governor to the centrally appointed Lieutenant Governor in the Union Territories of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh.

Senior Congress leader Shoib Lone is among some leaders released earlier this month. Lone was, however, released from house detention in Sopore on health grounds. “I suffer from pancreatitis due to which I was released from house detention in Sopore. Earlier I was not allowed to move out from my house by the personnel deployed for my security,” he said.

Former PDP MLA from Batamaloo, Noor Mohammad, said he was released to attend the marriage of his daughter. “I have been released for a period of 15 days,” he said. Senior PDP leader Abdul Rahim Rather said he was not allowed to meet many of his workers and relatives at his residence in Srinagar earlier, but the curbs have now been eased.

Curbs on the mainstream politicians continued for several weeks after the revocation of special status with authorities even declining the requests of family to meet at the SKICC.

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