Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday said that she has been “illegally detained yet again”, and that for two days, she was restrained from meeting the family of Peoples Democratic Party Youth Wing President Waheed Parra.
The youth leader was on Wednesday arrested in a terror case related to suspended Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Superintendent of Police Davinder Singh.
“Since two days, J&K admin [administration] has refused to allow me to visit Waheed Parra’s family in Pulwama,” Mufti said in a tweet. “BJP Ministers & their puppets are allowed to move around in every corner of Kashmir but security is a problem only in my case.”
Mufti claimed that the PDP youth leader was arrested on baseless charges, and that she was not even being allowed to console the family. “Even my daughter Iltija has been placed under house arrest because she also wanted to visit Waheed’s family,” she tweeted.
Mufti’s detention came barely 24 hours before Jammu and Kashmir will hold its first ever District Development Council elections. This is the first electoral exercise to be held in the region since August 5 last year, when the Centre ended its special status under Article 370.
The PDP chief was supposed to hold a press conference at 3 pm on Friday. However, journalists on Twitter said they were barred from attending her press conference.
On her Twitter handle, Mufti also alleged that the government did not allow journalists to enter her residence in Srinagar, despite there being no written order explaining the reason behind her “arbitrary detention”.
“Kashmir is an open prison where no one has the right to express their opinion,” she said. “We are one day away from the DDC polling and its evident that the administration here is using fear and intimidation in tandem to muffle any form of opposition.”
The Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, an alliance of six parties, including the National Conference, the People’s Democratic Party, People’s Conference, has repeatedly criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party for not letting opposition parties of the Valley campaign for the district council elections.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police, however, denied that Mufti was put under house arrest, and said that she was requested to postpone her visit to Pulwama to meet Parra’s family “purely due to security reasons”.
Mufti dismissed the claim and asked why the police was then stopping the press from entering her residence.
National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah criticised the administration over Mufti’s alleged detention. “Parking a truck in front of our gates is now standard operating procedure for this admin [administration],” he tweeted. “They did the same to my father recently to stop him from praying. Personal liberty is treated as a favour by the government, to give and withdraw at will, with no interference from the judiciary.”
PDP leader Parra’s arrest came two days after he was questioned by the NIA in the terror case. His name had emerged during the probe against Singh, who was caught with Hizbul Mujahideen militants earlier this year.
Singh was posted as the deputy superintendent of police at the Srinagar airport. He had allegedly escorted the militants from Shopian in South Kashmir to his home and allowed them to stay overnight.
The militants were identified as Babu, and his accomplices Irfan and Rafi. The four reportedly set out for Jammu on January 11 morning, and planned to go to New Delhi from there. Singh was also seen along with the foreign delegation that visited Jammu and Kashmir.
On January 18, the NIA said it has registered a case against Singh and his accomplices under the UAPA. In July, the NIA filed a chargesheet against Singh under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
Mufti was released from detention after over a year on October 13. Mufti had been in detention under the Public Safety Act since August 5, 2019, the day the Centre abolished the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, and bifurcated it into Union Territories, and imposed a complete lockdown.
Almost all of the Kashmir Valley’s political leadership, including two other former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah – were detained last year. Omar Abdullah was released seven months later on March 24 as the Jammu and Kashmir administration revoked his detention order under the Public Safety Act. Farooq Abdullah was released on March 13. People’s Conference chief Sajjad Lone was released in July.