3 weeks in detention, no sign of JK leaders' release

National Congress President Farooq Abdullah and former chief minister and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti. (PTI File Photo)

Political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, including former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, are completing three weeks in detention on Saturday but there is no sign of their release any time soon, as the situation continues to be in flux in the state.

Most of the prominent leaders were taken into custody on the midnight of August 4-5, hours before the government scrapped special status of Jammu and Kashmir and placed a bill in Rajya Sabha to bifurcate the state into two union territories. The bifurcation bill was passed by Parliament on August 6 and the President gave his assent later.

Officials in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) maintain that the local administration would decide on the release of the leaders after taking into account the ground situation.

Omar and Mehbooba are kept in detention in separate guest houses while Farooq is detained in his own house. Peoples' Conference chief Sajjad Lone and senior CPI(M) leader Yusuf Tarigami are also among those under detention while there are reports that restrictions have been put on visitors to some leaders.

While there is no official word on the number of leaders and others kept under detention since August 5, unofficial estimates range between 2,000 and 4,000.

Ten Opposition parties, including Congress and the Left, on Thursday, joined a protest organised by DMK in the national capital demanding the immediate release of political leaders and others in detention since the scrapping of the special status of the state. There are plans to expand the protests to state capitals.

"There has been a chilling crackdown on free speech and right of assembly. Such actions (communication black-out and detention of leaders) go against the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India and need to be immediately reversed," the resolution passed at the protest said.

Officials said the situation is under control but mobile services and internet remain suspended in the state. Land-line services have been restored at most places, barring a few localities in Srinagar.

According to officials in the security agencies, there were over 200 stone-pelting incidents in the Kashmir Valley since August 5 and many security personnel suffered injuries in these incidents. Officials said the injuries were not of serious nature. 

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