Jammu and Kashmir administration thwarts PDP’s first-ever meeting post-August 5

Published : September 04, 2020 15:02 IST

Peoples Democratic Party meeting in Srinagar on September 3. Only a handful of leaders turned up for the meeting as the authorities did not allow many of them to attend it. Photo: NISSAR AHMAD

The administration in Jammu and Kashmir was once again in the news on September 3 for restricting the movement of political leaders, this time of those belonging to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), despite claiming in courts that the said persons were not under detention.

Senior leaders of the PDP were scheduled to attend the party’s first-ever meeting since the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, called by PDP general secretary Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura in Srinagar. However, they were not allowed to leave their premises by the security personnel, who did not show them any document explaining the ground of such restriction. Former Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet Minister Naeem Akhtar, former legislators Muhammad Khursheed Alam, Mohammad Yousuf, A.R. Veeri and Waheed Para were among the top brass of the party who were unlawfully asked to remain in their residences.

In videos that soon went viral on the social media, one can see that the security personnel who prevented these leaders from venturing out were unable to cite any argument justifying their action. “Upar se order hai [we have orders from superiors]” is all they can be heard saying. In one such video, Naeem Akhtar is seen requesting a policeman to connect him to the authorities so that he could seek information on the ground of his being restricted, but the cop does not oblige. “Connect me to your higher authority. I’m not blaming you, but show me the order which bars me from moving out,” Akhtar told the policeman to no avail.

Akhtar later tweeted: “Despite being free on paper and in govt submissions in HC [High Court] and SC [Supreme Court], PDP Leadership continues to be under illegal detention, without any official orders. Video from today - I wasn’t allowed to attend the PDP meeting nor were any of my colleagues.”

Ilitija Mufti, daughter of PDP president and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, took to Twitter to vent her exasperation. “Shameful that J&K admin along with police physically prevented PDP leaders from leaving their homes in Srinagar today. They shamelessly lie to courts that these people are free to move & then have the audacity to detain them illegally at home,” she posted from her mother’s handle.

PDP’s youth president Waheed Para shared their collective experiences on Twitter under the heading “Our Story”. He wrote: “A year of unfreedom & many claims later we were told we are free now. But when we try to attend the first party meet post Aug 5 they told us we are under detention. Question now is how choking our space in the name of law & order is contributing to the so called ‘peace’.”

Md. Yousuf’s son Zubair Yousuf posted similar photographs on his social media page. “Nothing can be more pathetic to see even Ex. MLA’s not being allowed to move out, to attend party meeting scheduled today, after being in detention for more than 13 months now,” he wrote.

It has been routine for the Jammu and Kashmir administration to restrict the movement of political figureheads without giving any explanation for such coercive measure. When National Conference leaders earlier approached the court, the administration denied that these leaders were under any kind of restriction or detention. On August 5, leaders cutting across party lines, such as Yousuf Tarigami of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Muzaffar Shah of the Awami National Conference, were barred from attending a meeting called by National Conference president Farooq Abdullah at his Gupkar Road residence.

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