Kashmir: Three former chief ministers allege detention at homes
Three former chief ministers and their families were allegedly confined in their homes on Sunday, the second anniversary of the Pulwama terror attack that killed 40 CRPF personnel, prompting Omar Abdullah to take a swipe at “new” Kashmir.
Police neither acknowledged nor denied the allegation but said the trio — Omar, father Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti — had been informed in advance not to travel on Sunday in the light of adverse intelligence inputs. Omar denied the police had issued any such advisory.
“This is the ‘naya/new J&K’ after Aug 2019. We get locked up in our homes with no explanation. It’s bad enough they’ve locked my father (a sitting MP) & me in our home, they’ve locked my sister & her kids in their home as well,” Omar tweeted.
No restrictions were placed on the movement of politicians in Jammu, however, despite the police claiming to have seized 6.5kg of improvised explosive devices near the Jammu bus stand and averted a terror attack on the anniversary.
The February 14, 2019, Pulwama attack had brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war and helped the Narendra Modi government make terrorism, Pakistan and a muscular nationalism its main campaign planks for the April-May general election, which it won.
During the Pulwama attack’s first anniversary last year, the three former chief ministers were in the middle of months of detention that had begun when the government abrogated Article 370 provisions on August 5, 2019.
A People’s Democratic Party spokesperson said Mehbooba and her family too had been confined in their home. Omar, Farooq and Mehbooba live in Srinagar’s Gupkar neighbourhood.
Following Omar’s allegation, the police claimed that VIP movement had been “discouraged” on Sunday.
“Today is 2nd anniversary of dreaded Lethpora (Pulwama) terror incident. There shall be no ROP on ground. Due to adverse inputs, movement of VIPs/ protected persons has been discouraged and all concerned were informed in advance not to plan a tour today,” the Srinagar police tweeted.
“ROP” stands for “road-opening party” — a group of personnel who secure a road before movement by the security forces or any VVIP.
Omar suggested the police claim was untrue. “Please share the written communication address to me & acknowledged by me (or my office) informing us in advance of these restrictions. Surely this anniversary didn’t come as a surprise to the administration,” he said.
On Saturday, Mehbooba had been prevented from visiting the family of Athar Mushtaq, a 17-year-old student killed on December 30 along with two others in an alleged gunfight. The police claim the trio were militants but their families have denied the allegation.
The police recently lodged an FIR against Mushtaq’s father and relatives for demanding his body. The three were buried 150km from their homes as part of a government strategy not to hand over militants’ bodies to their families.
Mehbooba has uploaded a video on her Twitter handle, in which she seeks an explanation why she is not being allowed to visit Mushtaq’s family.
Jammu police chief Mukesh Singh said two men — Suhail, a Kashmiri studying nursing in Chandigarh, and Qazi — had been detained in connection with the explosives haul.