Bharatiya Janata Party General Secretary Ram Madhav has said there are “only 200 to 250 people” in preventive detention in Jammu and Kashmir, PTI reported on Monday. “They have been kept under preventive detention respectfully, some in five-star guest houses, some in five-star hotels,” he said at an event in New Delhi.

Madhav said around 2,000 to 2,500 people were kept in detention when the Centre revoked the state’s special constitutional status on August 5. Since then, the Kashmir Valley has been peaceful, he claimed. “You can understand what do the people of Kashmir want and what these 200 to 250 people want,” Madhav added.

His comments came even as restrictions, including a communication blockade, remained in place in the state. Several mainstream political leaders such as former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah, and Kashmiri bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal were taken into custody or put under house arrest after the clampdown last month. Jammu and Kashmir National Conference President Farooq Abdullah was booked under the “public order” section of the Public Safety Act, which allows one to be detained for six months without trial.

Asked if the detained party leaders would be allowed to campaign in the upcoming Block Development Council polls, Madhav said it was not a big election. “There will be no fierce door-to-door campaigning,” Hindustan Times quoted him as saying. “It is a small electoral process. Whenever any candidate or political party approaches us for facilitating a level playing field for everyone, we will facilitate it. We will be responsive to all kinds of complaints.”

The Block Development Council elections will be held from 9 am to 1 pm on October 24, and votes will be counted from 3 pm. They will be held in 310 of 316 blocks in the state, a week before Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh are notified as Union Territories. Home Minister Amit Shah has said the tehsil and zila panchayat elections in the state will also be announced soon.

Speaking about ties with Islamabad, Madhav said it was decided in 1994 “that the only point left to discuss with Pakistan is when they will handover Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to India”. Pakistan has been furious ever since India imposed the security lockdown in the region. It responded by suspending trade, downgrading diplomatic ties and writing letters to the United Nations in an effort to internationalise the matter. India, however, has resisted attempts to discuss Kashmir at global platforms, calling it an internal matter.

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Amit Shah denies there are curbs in J&K, says lack of phone connection is not human rights violation

Kashmir politicians detained will be freed in less than 18 months: Union minister Jitendra Singh

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