After meeting Abdullahs, NC leaders seek release
The delegations demanded that Kashmiri politicians be released and said there was little scope for participation in the upcoming local body polls if senior leaders remained under detention.Updated: Oct 07, 2019 00:33 IST
Two delegations from the National Conference (NC) met senior party leaders Farooq and Omar Abdullah in Srinagar on Sunday in what was a rare political meeting in Kashmir since at least 50 politicians were put under detention on August 5, when Jammu & Kashmir was stripped of special status and bifurcated into two Union Territories.
The delegations demanded that Kashmiri politicians be released and said there was little scope for participation in the upcoming local body polls if senior leaders remained under detention. The other major Kashmiri political party, the Peoples Democratic Party, announced that a team would be meeting former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday in Srinagar.
“When the entire leadership is under arrest, there is a complete lockdown and a communications blockade, how is it possible to contest the block development polls,” asked Hasnain Masoodi, the member of Parliament from Anantnag, who met both the Abdullahs.
Devender Rana, chief of the Jammu unit of the NC, said the working committee of the party could decide on a poll strategy only after the Abdullahs are released. “If the political process has to start then these people have to be released,” he added.
This is the first time the Abdullahs were seen in public since the first week of August. Farooq, who is detained at his Gupkar road residence under the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act, was seen waving to the crowd and signalling the victory sign. His wife, Molly Abdullah, was by his side. Omar Abdullah was seen sporting a beard and clicking a selfie with party leaders at the Hari Niwas Palace, where he has been detained. The NC leaders first met Omar Abdullah and then Farooq.
The first delegation to meet the leaders comprised of Masoodi and Baramulla MP Akbar Lone, who had obtained permission for the meeting from the Jammu & Kashmir high court. The second team to meet the Abdullahs was led by Rana and comprised other leaders of the Jammu unit of the NC who were allowed by governor Satya Pal Malik on Saturday. Each round of meetings lasted a little under 30 minutes. The meeting came days after Malik’s adviser Farooq Khan said that Kashmiri leaders could be released “one by one” after analysing their cases.
After Sunday’s meeting, Rana said the NC could take a decision about future strategy only when the leaders are released. “The National Conference has a legacy; it has a history, a chequered track record and the party will continue to strive for the welfare of people of Jammu and Kashmir and shall continue to work for communal harmony, brotherhood, togetherness and keep the secular fabric of Jammu and Kashmir shining.” Masoodi said the main objective of the meeting was to discuss the Public Safety Act and the detention of the leaders.
A leader privy to the details of the meetings said the Abdullahs have told party delegations to establish contact with the leadership of other parties whose leaders are detained. “Both the delegations have been told that there is presently no scope for any political process which the Centre wants to initiate in J&K. Also, the leaders were told to visit other parts of the state to establish contact with the leadership in different districts and party workers,’’ added the leader.
A top government official said that leaders and former legislators of other political parties might also be allowed to meet their leaders if they approached the administration. At least 50 leaders of different political parties are in detention including Mufti, Peoples Conference chairman Sajjad Lone and former IAS officer Shah Faesal.
Most of these leaders were put in detention in the early hours of August 5, when all communication channels were suspended, roads blocked and travel restricted. Since then, the traffic blockades have been relaxed, landline telephone connections restored and leaders in Jammu region released.
On Monday, a PDP delegation from Jammu will meet Mufti. The team will be led by general secretary Ved Mahajan, former PDP legislator and spokesperson Firdous Tak told PTI. This will be the first meeting of PDP leaders with Mufti, who last month met her daughter Iltija Mufti after permission from the Supreme Court.
Tak said the PDP had requested governor Malik for permission and that the same was granted. “A meeting is going on to finalise the delegation. Most probably, the strength of the delegation will be of 15 or 18 members,” he said. The meetings come in the backdrop of a notification issued by the J&K administration last week to hold the Block Development Council polls in 306 blocks.
(with agency inputs)