Centaur hotel turns into detention centre in Srinagar, houses 50 top leaders
Srinagar Once a high-end hotel preferred by high-profile politicians, the city’s Centaur hotel, which is now part of a complex that houses the Sher- e-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC), is now a detention centre.
At least 50 top mainstream politicians including former ministers and legislators of the National Conference, the People’s Democratic Party, and the People’s Conference are housed there, according a government officer posted at SKICC.
“SKICC is completed sealed now. This is the first time I am seeing the place used as a detention centre,’’ added this person who asked not to be named. “The leaders are in rooms of the Centaur hotel which is at the back of SKICC.’’
Former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah (both of the NC) and Mehbooba Mufti (of the PDP) aren’t here, though. Now a MP from Srinagar, Farooq Abdullah has been under house detention at his Gupkar residence since August 5.
Omar Abdullah is jailed at Hari Niwas which is close to his residence on Gupkar Road; and Mehbooba Mufti who was also initially lodged at Hari Niwas has been shifted to one of the huts at Chesma Shahi (a Mughal garden) overlooking the beautiful mountain range, Zabrwan. Nobody has been allowed to meet these top leaders.
The leaders, among the few hundred to few thousand to have been detained (there are no official numbers and the unofficial ones vary widely) , were held after Indian Parliament passed laws and resolutions to bifurcate the northern state into two union territories and also scrapped constitutional provisions that gave the state special status and its permanent residents, special privileges.
Tens of leaders , especially of separatist outfits, and also members of civil society have been detained outside the state under the provisions of the Public Safety Act was slapped on them.
The main entrance of the SKICC is sealed. There have been attempts by various people to meet the leaders held there, but to no avail. “I wasn’t allowed to meet my leader, Sajjad Lone. I made several attempts to do so. I have been told that his family members and relatives were not allowed to meet him,’’ said one of the confidants of former J&K minister and PC chairman Sajjad Lone.
Apart from the top leaders, many young people have also been detained in different parts of the Valley since August 5 and family members of those arrested have been making rounds of local police stations to seek their release.
J&K government spokesman and Principal Secretary, Planning, Rohit Kansal termed the arrested a continuous and dynamic process. “Some are detained and some released at local level. This is decided by authorities at local level.’’ He didn’t provide any official numbers of the people under detention.