Three former CMs caged in Kashmir; separatists free

Three former CMs caged in Kashmir; separatists free

While leaders of mainstream political parties, including three former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), continue to remain in detention since August 5, top separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq are free.

National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti — all former chief ministers — along with most of the former ministers and legislators were detained by the government on August 5 after the Center scrapped special status of J&K under Article 370. 

Senior Abdullah was slapped with public safety act (PSA) earlier this week, which allows detention without trial for a maximum period of two years. Sources said that the trio is unlikely to be released any time soon and neither have they made a plea to be released. “None of the detained leaders had agreed to sign bonds that they would not engage in political activity upon release,” they said.

Though the Central government had cracked the whip on several top separatist leaders, including JKLF chief Yasin Malik, Shabir Shah and Asiya Andrabi with a multi-agency swoop down much before August 5, hardliner Hurriyat leaders Geelani and Ashraf Sehrai, moderate leaders Mirwaiz, Bilal Lone, Prof Gani Bhat and few others were left out.

Sources said Mirwaiz had been detained on August 5 and taken to Srinagar Central Jail. However, they said, Mirwaiz assured the authorities that they will not protest against the scrapping of Article 370 “as separatists publicly don’t accept Indian constitution.”

“He (Mirwaiz) was released in the evening and remains under house detention since, as authorities don’t want him to address weekly Friday congregation at historic Jamia Masjid in old city Srinagar,” they said.

Ailing Geelani officially is not under house arrest. His recent reported bid to interact with media was however scuttled. "Geelani has been very unwell and has only been kept under surveillance,” a police officer said.

Bilal Lone and Prof Bhat also are not officially under house detention. However, Bilal’s younger brother, Sajjad Lone, who was a minister in previous BJP-PDP alliance, continued to remain in custody along with nearly 50 high profile mainstream leaders at a hotel-turned-jail in Srinagar.

“BJP lost its faith in Sajjad Lone as he failed to deliver when it came to government formation in the state last November. He had promised to deliver NC and PDP MLAs but failed to keep the promise. Eventually in the Parliament elections in April-May this year, his Peoples Conference lost from all three Valley seats,” a senior BJP leader told DH.

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