Five J-K leaders released after 4 months in detention
Srinagar: Five politicians, including a former state minister and three former legislators, were released by the Jammu & Kashmir administration on Monday, 147 days after the nullification of special status of the region and its bifurcation into two Union Territories.
The leaders are Ishfaq Jabbar and Ghulam Nabi of the National Conference (NC), Zahoor Mir and Bashir Ahmad Mir of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former legislative council member Yasir Reshi of the PDP. The five were housed in Srinagar’s MLA hostel where at least 25 other politicians are currently under preventive detention.
“They have been released,” Srinagar’s deputy commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said the leaders have been sent back home.
Jabbar is former MLA from central Kashmir’s Ganderbal, while Nabi is former legislator from south Kashmir’s Tral constituency. Zahoor Mir served as the Minister of State for forest, ecology and environment in the PDP government and is from south Kashmir’s Pampore. Reshi, a Bandipora resident, served as member of legislative council in the erstwhile J&K state assembly.
Officials familiar with the matter indicated that this was the beginning of process of the release other political leaders held in preventive detention. “Since things have been peaceful, the process of release of leaders has begun. In coming days more leaders will be released,” said a senior official in Srinagar who asked not to be named.
The other politicians of various mainstream parties still under detention at government-owned MLA hostel on Moulana Azad Road include including Peoples’ Conference chairman Sajad Lone, former bureaucrat Shah Faesal, and NC leader Ali M Sagar.
These leaders were among hundreds of people and dozens of mainstream politicians -- including former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah Mehbooba Mufti -- detained by the government a day ahead of the revocation of J&K’s special status by the Rajya Sabha on August 5.
The government invoked the Public Safety Act on Farooq Abdullah and declared his Gupkar residence as a subsidiary jail. NC vice-president Omar Abdullah is detained at Hari Niwas, a short distance from his house. Mehbooba Mufti, who was placed under detention and lodged in a hut at Chesma Shahi, was shifted to a guest house of the estates department in the heart of Srinagar.
The process of releasing politicians began in September, when Syed Akhoon(NC), Hilal Shah(Congress) and Imran Ansari (PC) were set free from Srinagar’s Centaur Hotel, where they have been kept in detention.
Later that month, Congress leader Shoaib Lone was released from house detention over some health concerns. In October, PDP leaders Noor Mohammad and Yawar Mir were released from their respective places of detention, while former ministers Hassan Mir and Dilawar Mir were also released from house detention in November, and , Hakeem Yasin of the J&K Peoples’ Democratic Front and Ashraf Mir of the PDP were released from the MLA hostel in first week of December.
On November 20, the Union minister of state for home, G Kishan Reddy, said in a statement in the Rajya Sabha that 5,161 people were arrested in Kashmir from a day ahead of the withdrawal of special status given to J&K , and that 609 people, including 218 alleged stone-pelters, were under detention at that time.
“All political prisoners across the board irrespective of the parties including three former chief ministers should be immediately released. All the detentions here have been unwarranted and unjustified,” said NC leader and south Kashmir MP Hasnain Masoodi.
The Union government has repeatedly said that the politicians will be released when the local administration deems it fit. Jammu & Kashmir, like all other UTs, is now administered by a Lieutenant-Governor. Girish Chandra Murmu was appointed as the LG of J&K on October 31.