Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Saturday lashed out at the Centre after the arrest of the party’s Jammu and Kashmir chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir and chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma, and asked if the Bharatiya Janata Party believed if India was still a democracy.
“On what grounds have Cong leaders in J&K been arrested,” Vadra wrote in a tweet. “Is it a crime to speak to the media? It’s now 15 days since ex CM’s who respected and abided by the Constitution of India just like our leaders, have been under arrest.”
In another tweet she wrote: “Even their families have not been allowed to communicate with them. Does the Modi-Shah Govt believe India is still a democracy?”
The Congress had condemned the police action against two senior party leaders in the state and called it “madness” and a “dictatorial move”.
Mir was placed under house arrest in Jammu on Friday afternoon, while Sharma was detained for around three hours after being prevented from addressing a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Jammu. Mir is a former minister of the state, while Sharma has earlier been a member of the Legislative Council.
Other major political leaders of the state, including former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, have been in custody since August 5. Bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal was reportedly taken to a makeshift detention centre in Srinagar on Thursday.
The administration said preventive detentions were being continuously reviewed and that “appropriate decisions will be made based on law and order assessments”.
On Saturday, authorities in Kashmir had restored services on over 50,000 landline phones in 17 telephone exchanges in the region. The phone lines had not been operational for more than 10 days.
On August 5, the central government announced it was revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and splitting the state into two Union territories, which will come into effect on October 31. A day before the government announced the decision, the state was put under an unprecedented security and information clampdown, with all landline and internet connections blocked. Restrictions were lifted in Jammu earlier this week.
‘Enough is enough’
Vadra also criticised the government on Saturday after rape-accused MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar had found a prominent place alongside Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath and other leaders in an advertisement published in a Hindi newspaper on August 15.
“CBI submitted the report. The Supreme Court has also reprimanded, but the BJP’s people still have rape accused Kuldeep Singh Sengar’s in their hearts.” Vadra said in a tweet. “His photo is there with big leaders of the BJP. Will they comment,” she asked, alongside the hashtag enough is enough.
The advertisement in the Unnao edition of Hindi newspaper Hindustan was funded by local Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Ungu Nagar Panchayat Chairman Anuj Kumar Dixit. The advertisement also featured pictures of Sengar’s wife and Zila Panchayat chair Sangeeta Singh Sengar, UP Assembly Speaker Hriday Narayan Dikshit and state BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh.
Sengar is accused of raping a teenager in Unnao in 2017. Sengar is a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly and has been in jail for the alleged rape since April 2018. However, he was expelled from the BJP only on August 1, days after the complainant in the rape case was critically injured in a car crash. A truck had collided with the car in which she was travelling on the highway. The 19-year-old and her lawyer were critically injured, while two of her aunts died in the collision. One of her aunts was a witness in the rape case.
The BJP has distanced itself from the controversy.