Congress questions Kashmiri leaders’ prolonged detention

NEW DELHI: The Congress has questioned the Centre’s decision to prolong the detention of leaders of Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 and reorganization of the state.

Three former chief ministers — National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah, a Lok Sabha MP, and his son Omar Abdullah, and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti — are in detention, apart from other leaders of the state.

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said “We want to know from the government if Farooq Abdullah will be in Parliament from Monday to raise his voice.”

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The Congress asserted that these mainstream political leaders have faced the ire of separatists for supporting India.

Khera also alleged that the lockdown in Kashmir is on for 103 days, and there is no electricity, no medicines in hospitals and no data services for phones.

“Is this ‘changa si’ Modiji?” asked Khera, referring to PM Modi’s remarks at the ‘HowdyModi’ in Houston on September 22, when he told the crowd that “Sab Changa si” (everything is OK in India).

Asked about newly-appointed J&K Lt Gov G.C. Murmu’s statement that the government is contemplating holding early assembly election, the Congress spokesperson remarked: “When all the mainstream leaders are in jail, then elections for whom? Is this how the issue is resolved?”

Murmu on Thursday said elections for the assembly of the Union Territory will be held soon.

In a historic decision, the BJP-led Central government revoked Article 370 on August 5 and split Jammu and Kashmir into two UTs — J&K and Ladakh.

Unlike Ladakh, the UT of J&K can elect a legislative assembly and a chief minister with the total strength of ministers not exceeding the 10 per cent of the total strength of the Assembly.

The Centre is grappling with the issue of filling the political vacuum after the move on Article 370.

Most of the important political leaders are still in detention since August 5.

Around 50 other leaders from different political parties are also under detention at Centaur Hotel which has been declared as a sub-jail.

Efforts by the BJP to fill the political vacuum have so far not met with success.

The Centre is in contact with leaders such as Altaf Bukhari, Muzaffar Hussain Baig of the PDP, Usman Majeed of the Congress and others.

The leaders were recently invited for lunch hosted in honour of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who visited Kashmir on October 29.

The MEPs met several groups of people with little standing in public.

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