Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday alleged that security forces were breaking into homes and violating the privacy of Kashmiri citizens ahead of a G20 meeting in Srinagar.
The Peoples Democratic Party chief made the claim after Sehar Shabir Shah, daughter of jailed separatist leader Shabir Shah, alleged security forces conducted searches at her home. She said that around 20 to 30 security personnel jumped over walls to enter their home and harassed them in the name of conducting searches.
The security personnel entered Shah’s home when only his wife was present and conducted the searches, Sehar Shah said. “They started searching the rooms, my mother accompanied them,” she recounted. “There were 20 to 30 men and she could not be with all of them. One group entered my mother’s room, so she was with them. Other Army men...entered the other rooms. They made a complete mess.”
The third meeting of the G20 tourism working group is scheduled to be held in Srinagar between May 22 and 24. This will be the first major international summit to be held in Jammu and Kashmir since the erstwhile state’s special status was taken away by abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5, 2019.
Commenting on Sehar Shah’s claims, Mufti said: “Right before G20 in Kashmir, security forces are breaking into homes, ransacking & violating the privacy of people here. As if the existing repression in Kashmir wasn’t enough, GOIs [government of India] paranoia about G20 has unleashed bigger demons. Even women are not being spared.”
The Srinagar Police, however, said that Shah’s home was among 20 places that were searched after security forces received inputs about the movement of suspected militants.
“This has nothing to do with G-20 but is routine in case of inputs,” the Srinagar Police said. “No harassment/harm whatsoever was caused during this search and all SOPs [standard operating procedures] were followed. The lady is strangely linking this with G-20, more strange is an ex CM [Mufti] linking this too with event, when she herself was privy to such search in particular locality due to terrorist sighting.”
Thursday’s development comes after a United Nations official on Monday had claimed that India is seeking to normalise the “brutal and repressive denial of democratic and other rights of Kashmiri Muslims and minorities” by holding G20 meetings in Jammu and Kashmir.
UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Fernand de Varennes, had alleged that the Union government is trying to instrumentalise the G20 meeting and portray an international “seal of approval” on what some have described as a “military occupation” of Kashmir.