Abdullahs, Mufti placed in house arrest ahead of stir on redrawing J&K assembly seats

The top leadership of the Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an alliance of five political parties, have been placed under house arrest, according to PAGD spokesperson Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Srinagar, India - January 01, 2022: Activists of National Conference shout slogans and hold placards during a protest against the delimitation commission in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India on Saturday, January 1, 2022. People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgam of Jammu and Kashmir's regional parties, had announced a sit in protest against recommendations of the commission. PAGD spokesperson said its leaders have been placed under house arrest ahead of today's protest. (Photo by Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times)
Srinagar, India - January 01, 2022: Activists of National Conference shout slogans and hold placards during a protest against the delimitation commission in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India on Saturday, January 1, 2022. People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgam of Jammu and Kashmir's regional parties, had announced a sit in protest against recommendations of the commission. PAGD spokesperson said its leaders have been placed under house arrest ahead of today's protest. (Photo by Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times)
Published on Jan 01, 2022 11:23 PM IST
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Srinagar: Political leaders in Kashmir, including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, were placed under house arrest on Saturday, ahead of a sit-in protest against the government’s intention of redrawing assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir governed by New Delhi.

The top leadership of the Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an alliance of five political parties, have been placed under house arrest, according to PAGD spokesperson Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

“In Kashmir, New Year began on another disappointing note where Police resumed their work of scuttling the legitimate voices & squeezing democratic space by cracking down on protests against the Delimitation Commission. Entire PAGD leadership including me have been put under house arrest,” Tarigami tweeted, posting a photo of the locked gate of his residence.

Police had locked the gates of his residence, National Conference vice president Abdullah said. “Good morning & welcome to 2022. A new year with the same J&K police illegally locking people in their homes & an administration so terrified of normal democratic activity. Trucks parked outside our gates to scuttle the peaceful @JKPAGD sit-in protest. Some things never change,” Abdullah posted on Twitter, along with pictures of a police vehicle parked at the gate of his residence.

“Talk about a lawless police state, the police have even locked the internal gate connecting my father’s home to my sister’s. Yet our leaders have the cheek to tell the world that India is the largest democracy, hah!!,” Abdullah tweeted.

Peoples’ Democratic Party chief Mufti characterised the central government’s move to stopping people to protest as “disempowerment of J&K”.

“GOI trumpets scrapping Article 370 & dismembering J&K throughout the country but is deeply paranoid and intolerant when people of J&K want to protest against its disempowerment. For the umpteenth time, we’ve been placed under house arrest for trying to organise a peaceful protest,” she said in a tweet.

There was no official communication from the Jammu and Kashmir administration or police on the restrictions placed on the political leaders.

The PAGD in a December 21 meeting had expressed “deep dissatisfaction” and “shock” over the recommendations of the delimitation commission established to redraw the boundaries of assembly constituencies in the newly formed Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

The commission has recommended an increase in the number of assembly seats from 83 to 90, with 43 in Jammu and 47 in Kashmir. In the current assembly, Jammu has 37 members and Kashmir, 46.

The political collective had termed the proposal an act to “divide people on the basis of religion and groups” and announced to hold a protest in Srinagar on January 1. The meeting was attended by Abdullah, Mufti, CPI(M) general secretary Tarigami, and Awami National Conference vice-president Muzuffar Shah, among others.

“The constitutionality of the commission under the reorganization act has been challenged in the Supreme Court of India. The recommendations are highly disappointing and divisive, and will further disempower the people of Kashmir,” Tarigami had said after the PAGD meeting. “It is bound to widen the gaps between regions and communities. As such, it is unacceptable to the people of the region.”

The alliance had appealed to the people to remain united and not fall prey to what it called the divisive politics of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The PAGD, an alliance formed by five political parties in Kashmir, seeks the restoration of special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir that was dissolved by the Union government in August 2019.

Later on Saturday, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti had praised their party colleagues for organising protests.

“Well done to my @JKNC_ & @YNCJK colleagues for managing to come out & register our protest about all that is being done to disempower the people,” Abdullah tweeted.

 

Political parties not associated with PAGD also criticised the government for scuttling the protest.

Peoples’ Conference president Sajad Lone said he could not find any valid reason why the state administration should stop political parties from protesting.

“Isn’t right to protest intrinsic to the concept of a vibrant democracy. Not being critical. But state administration really needs to reassess and reevaluate…Non violent mode of protest in the context of violent strife needs to facilitated not stifled,” Lone said in a series of tweets.

The house arrest of Farooq Abdullah was “unethical and undemocratic,” Congress’s J&K chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir said.

“Keeping under house arrest prominent leader like Dr. Farooq Abdullah ahead of proposed sit-in protest against Delimitation Commission draft is a sham, unethical and against the basic foundation of the Indian democracy which stands guarantee to freedom of speech and freedom of expression to every citizen,” Mir said in a statement.

The Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir was formed by the Union government on March 6 last year, just six months after the special status of J&K under Article 370 was revoked and the region split into two Union territories – J&K with a legislative assembly and Ladakh without one. Earlier, the delimitation of the constituencies in J&K was scheduled to be held in 2026.

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Saturday, July 02, 2022