The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Thursday released five more Kashmiri political leaders from detention, Scroll.in has learnt. They have been detained at the MLA Hostel in Srinagar since the government abrogated the region’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5 and divided it into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
The five leaders were identified as Peoples Democratic Party leader Nizamuddin Bhat, National Conference leaders Showkat Ganai, Salman Sagar, Altaf Kaloo and Mukhtar Bandh.
With this release, 21 leaders of various parties in Kashmir are still in detention at the MLA hostel. This excluded three former chief ministers of the state – National Conference President Farooq Abdullah, whose detention under the Public Safety Act was extended by three months on December 15, his son Omar Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti. Abdullah is confined to his Gupkar Road residence in Srinagar. Omar Abdullah is at Hari Niwas, while Mehbooba Mufti was initially lodged at Cheshmashahi hut, but was later shifted to a government accommodation. The number of people still under house arrest is not clear.
On December 30, five other politicians, including two MLAs, were released from detention in the MLA hostel.
There has been increasing international pressure on India to restore normalcy in Kashmir. Postpaid mobile and SMS services have resumed in Kashmir. Broadband services were restored in institutions dealing with “essential services”, such as hospitals, banks, government offices, hotels, and tour and travel establishments on Tuesday night. The Ladakh administration on December 27 restored 4G mobile internet connectivity in Kargil, after a gap of 145 days.
A group of Union ministers will visit Jammu and Kashmir later this week to spread awareness about the alleged positive impact of the Centre’s decision to revoke the special constitutional status of the erstwhile state.