Politicians arrested in J&K shifted to Srinagar; ‘humiliated’ and ‘manhandled’, says Iltija Mufti

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Amidst a lot that happened in the country after the historic August 05 decision of the Centre, it was reported that the political prisoner of Kashmir was transferred to the MLA hotel in Srinagar. They were previously located in the Centaur hotel, on the banks of Dal Lake. The news only surfaced on November 17, 2019. The daughter of the PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, Iltija alleged that the detainees were ‘manhandles’ and ‘humiliated’ as per a report of The Wire. Iltija has been operating the twitter account of her mother Mehbooba Mufti since her mother was detained and put in house arrest. She has been highly critical of the actions of New Delhi its effect on Jammu and Kashmir. Among the many, it is reported that it included the chairman of Peoples Conference, Sajad Lone, the PDP youth president, Waheed Para and the renowned politician Shah Fesal. It has been reported and substantiated by the tweets of Iltija that Sajab lone, who is known to be a separatist turned mainstream politician, was repeatedly frisked and asked to undress. Iltija also remembers how Lone had once called Prime Minister Narendra Modi as his ‘elder brother’ before he assumed office in 2014. She said Sajad ‘stuck his neck out’ for Shri. Narendra Modi when ‘there was no palpable Modi wave’. She appeals that if the very ‘younger-brother’ of Modi is being treated in this manner, then one can only imagine the plight of others. 

‘Absolutely Baseless’, says DGP. 

In response, Munner Khan, who is the additional director general of police (law and order and security) has stated that the allegations about the manhandling and harassment of the arrested politicians are “absolutely baseless…with no authenticity to it”. In his statement, he has revealed that the politicians were taken to the hotel in different vehicles and after ‘proper frisking’, they were led to their respective rooms. He says ‘nothing like this has happened’. He also noted that it was essential to thoroughly frisk the prisoners in order to ensure they are not carrying any communication device or any substance to cause self-harm.

Once appreciated and now humiliated. Why? Asks Iltija Mufti.

She has reminded of the great work done by these men who are now harassed by the state machinery. Waheed Para was once lauded by the then Home Minister Rajnath Singh for working towards the strengthening the democracy in Jammu and Kashmir. Furthermore, Singh also called Shah Fesal as the role model of the valley for topping the UPSC examination. As per sources, by repeated frisking of Lone, Para and Fesal had to intervene, which led to a heated discussion between the security men present and the politicians. These are only a few to name, as other former ministers, lawmakers and politicians of various parties were among those were arrested, detained and shifted to the Centaur Hotel on August 05. The manner of the arrest comes in gross violation of the pre-arrest and post-arrest law in the country, as for several weeks, the family members of the politicians were not allowed to meet them. It was only when Shabnum, the sister of Sajad Lone, filed a petition in the J&K High Court that the same was entitled. After the decision in the case was pronounced, on the discretion of the court, the government had to allow the relatives to meet the imprisoned politicians. The politicians were then lodged at the hotel turned sub-jails by the concerned authorities. 

Lack of necessary facilities at sub-jails in J&K

It has been over four months that the detained politicians have been complaining about the lack of facilities in the hotel turned sub-jails, reported The Wire. Amidst them, while some complained of lack of necessary facilities, some complained of rats not allowing them to sleep. The terror of the rats at the hotel turned sub-jail was so grim that rats bit three politicians- Nizam-ud-Din Bhat (PDP), Bashir Ahmed (National Congress) and Mukhtiar Bhat (son of PDP leader Khalil Bhat). It is being reported that the shift in jail was made given the sudden wrath of temperature, when the valley witnessed the first snow-fall of the season on November 07. An official said that the hotel lacked proper heating facilities amongst the chilling snow-fall, as reported by The Wire. However, despite the shift in venue Iltija has been complaining that there persists as the lack of proper heating facilities, exposing the detained to the severe weather conditions. 

“The windows of the new jail are blocked with wood, lacked heating facility and has surveillance jammers,” she said.

Mehbooba Mufti & Farooq Abdullah continue to be detained in Kashmir

It has been reported that the state administration has also shifted the former J&K chief minister and the PDP Chief, Mehbooba Mufti to the government quarters on the MA road in the city centre. She has been detained since November 5, before the historic announcement. She was previously lodged in Chashma Shahi, the government guest house turned sub-jail, located on the outskirts of the city. Omar Abdullah, also a former chief minister of the state, was also detained on August 05. He has been lodged in Hari Niwas, on the foothills of Zabarwan Hills, state guest-house ahead of the highly fortified Gupkar road. Farooq was later under the Public Safety Act & detained at his Guparkar residence, also turned into sub-jail.

Elections might be preponed, says Governor Murmu

Earlier this week it was also reported that the state administration in the freshly bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir, led by Lt. Governor G.V. Murmu has suggested that the Centre might prepone the elections due in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Though, the Bhartiya Janta Party [BJP] is affirmative of the said move, other political parties including the National Conference, PDP and Congress have demanded the release of the political prisoners before any political activity starts in the valley. 

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