Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti's daughter, Iltija Mufti, on Thursday, wrote a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah questioning him about New Delhi’s decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, and the law under which she had been detained in her house.
After India revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status on 5 August and announced the bifurcation of the State into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, Mehbooba Mufti along with several other political leaders, including former chief minister Omar Abdullah, were detained by the police on the same day.
Iltija has also released a voice message saying she has been detained at her home, NDTV reported, where she said that almost all lines of communication with Kashmir have been snapped by the government to prevent a backlash to its decisions.
"I am being treated like a criminal and I am under constant surveillance. I fear for my life along with those Kashmiris who have spoken up," she described in the audio message.
Firstpost could not independently verify the document, but in a letter first published by The Wire, Iltijia wrote, "It’s now been over ten long agonising days since this crippling curfew was imposed. The valley is gripped with fear because all forms of communications have been snapped thereby debilitating an entire population. Today while the rest of the country celebrates India’s Independence Day, Kashmiris have been caged like animals and deprived of basic human rights."
Fearing unrest, India snapped telecommunications and imposed a curfew in Kashmir on 4 August, a day before its surprise presidential decree to strip the region of its special status. Phone services and internet connections remain suspended in the Kashmir Valley and curfew-like restrictions remain in place amid a complete communication black-out.
Restrictions on freedom of movement in the Kashmir Valley will be eased after Independence Day on Thursday, Governor Satya Pal Malik had said, although phone lines and the internet will remain cut off. Malik told The Times of India that communications will stay blocked as the government relaxes its clampdown since it stripped the region of its autonomy in early August.
"We don't want to give that instrument to the enemy until things settle down," Malik told the paper in an interview. "In a week or 10 days, everything will be alright and we will gradually open lines of communication," he said.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration had said that the restrictions in Kashmir will be removed in a phased manner, though police had maintained that the curbs will continue in Kashmir "for some time".
Here is the full text of the letter:
I am left with no other option but to write to you since I’ve made several unsuccessful attempts to get a degree of clarity on my detention. Hope and pray that I am not punished/penalised or arrested for raising questions about my fundamental rights.
Kashmir is engulfed in clouds of darkness and I fear for the safety of its people including those who spoke up. We Kashmiris are reeling in despair since the unilateral abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019. My mother, Ms. Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir was detained along with scores of other elected representatives the very same day.
It’s now been over ten long agonising days since this crippling curfew was imposed. The valley is gripped with fear because all forms of communications have been snapped thereby debilitating an entire population. Today while the rest of the country celebrates India’s Independence Day, Kashmiris have been caged like animals and deprived of basic human rights.
Unfortunately, for reasons best known to you, I also have been placed under detention at my residence. We are not even told when visitors are turned away from the gate and I am not allowed to step out either. Odd, since I am not affiliated to any political party and have always been a law abiding citizen.
However, the security personnel have cited my interviews to various media portals and newspapers as the reason for my detention. In fact, I’ve been threatened with dire consequences if I speak up again.
Pertinent to mention that the recurrent theme of these interviews was unconstitutional abrogation of the Article 370 followed by an unprecedented curfew. I also expressed concern for my mother’s safety, who along with hundreds of political detainees have been jailed since August 5, 2019.
With due respect, I fail to understand why I am being punished for speaking on behalf on Kashmiris whose voices have been smothered. Is it a crime to articulate the pain, torment and indignity we’ve been subjected to?
Does it warrant a detention to describe our plight? I’d be most obliged If you could kindly throw light on the laws under which I’ve been detained and for how long? Do I need to seek legal recourse?
It’s suffocating and humiliating to be treated in this manner. I have to grovel for permission to allow my aged grandmother to visit her son. Is she also a potential threat?
For the world’s largest democracy, doesn’t a citizen not have a right to speak up in the face of unimaginable repression? Satyamev jayate i.e. truth only triumphs has defined the spirit of our country and it’s constitution. It’s a tragic irony that I am being treated like a war criminal for stating the inconvenient truth.
Apologies for not posting this letter but as you’re aware postal services in Jammu and Kashmir have been suspended.
May truth prevail.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Aug 16, 2019 12:02:27 IST