Two Kashmiri leaders were released from detention in Srinagar and put under house arrest on Wednesday, six months after they were detained following the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
People’s Conference chairman Sajjad Lone and Peoples Democratic Party leader Waheed Parra, a close aide of detained former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, were the ones released from preventive detention. A People’s Conference spokesperson confirmed to Scroll.in that Lone will now be under house arrest.
Wednesday marks six months since the government abrogated the erstwhile state’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5. The state was also bifurcated into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Following the release of Lone and Parra, 13 politicians continue to be detained at the MLA hostel – said to be a temporary subsidiary jail in Srinagar. On Tuesday, the Jammu and Kashmir administration released two leaders, former PDP MLA from south Kashmir’s Wachi, Aijaz Ahmad Mir, and trade leader Shakeel Ahmed Qalandar. Eight leaders have been released from preventive detention since Sunday.
Among others still under detention are former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. Abdullah’s detention under the Public Safety Act was extended by three months on December 15. Abdullah is being held in 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 government accommodation.
The leaders’ detention was raised in the Parliament on Wednesday, with Congress leaders staging a walkout in Lok Sabha, The Indian Express reported. In a tweet, the party’s General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi wondered if India is still a democracy as former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers continue to be under detention for six months.
On January 16, five more Kashmiri political leaders were released from detention. Before that, five other politicians, including two MLAs, were released from detention in the MLA hostel on December 30.
The Narendra Modi-led government has faced global pressure to restore normalcy in the Valley. On January 24, the shutdown partially eased up: the government allowed access to 301 websites related to banking, commerce, education, entertainment, travel and news. No social media sites featured on this list. On the midnight of January 1, SMS services were restored. The Ladakh administration had restored 4G mobile internet connectivity in Kargil on December 27, after a gap of 145 days. Postpaid mobile phone services had been restored across all networks in the Kashmir Valley on October 14.