Angry Kashmiri political leaders are calling out the Ministry of Home Affairs, which on Tuesday said that no one is under house arrest in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, though 223 people are still under detention.
The ministry was responding to a question in the Lok Sabha asking for details of political leaders under house arrest as of now.
Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy said the government of Jammu and Kashmir has reported that after the abrogation of Article 370 in August last year, various measures were taken to maintain public order which included preventive detention of certain persons.
“As on September 11, 2020, 223 persons are under detention. No person is under house arrest in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha.
After the abrogation of Article 370 on 5 August last year, several political leaders in Kashmir were put under detention or house arrest. Former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah were released from detention in March this year. However, another former CM Mehbooba Mufti remains in detention.
Soon after the MHA’s response, several political leaders in Kashmir slammed the government and called their claims “blatant lies”.
People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Waheed ur Rehman Para told The Hindu that the centre was lying and he continues to be under house arrest. He added that 11 political workers of his party were also under house arrest.
He also tweeted:
Senior PDP leader and former minister Naeem Akhtar told Greater Kashmir that he remains to be under house arrest. He said he has only travelled outside the premises “twice or thrice in over last one year”.
Akhtar said the party leaders had a meeting two weeks ago, but they were not allowed to move out of their homes.
People’s Conference chairman Sajad Lone also said that either the state administration is lying to the centre or it’s the Union government’s “own initiative”. “People are under house arrest,” he said and clarified in a later tweet that he is not under house arrest.
“But even when I was officially, I was not,” he tweeted.
In July, a video had gone viral where Congress leader and former Union Minister Saifuddin Soz demonstrated how he was not being allowed to leave his house. While the Jammu and Kashmir administration has claimed that Soz is “free and not under detention”, he told Greater Kashmir that he is still under house arrest and not allowed to move outside.
Soz said that MHA’s claims “were false” and Parliament was being “misguided”.
The Economist wrote in its 12 September edition that since the abrogation of Article 370, the police have forced Soz to remain in his home. The report said that his family petitioned the courts for his release, but the Supreme Court dismissed the request after authorities had informed the court that Soz was “never detained nor under house arrest”.
(With PTI inputs)