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Mufti daughter to Amit Shah: Why am I detained?

Iltija has written to Amit Shah asking why she has been detained and is “being treated like a war criminal”

By Muzaffar Raina in Srinagar
  • Published 17.08.19, 3:40 AM
  • Updated 17.08.19, 3:40 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Iltija said security personnel have cited her interviews to media portals and newspapers as the reason for her detention, and she has been “threatened with dire consequences if I speak up again”. Telegraph picture

Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter Iltija has written to Union home minister Amit Shah asking why she has been detained and is “being treated like a war criminal” despite being a law-abiding citizen.

Iltija said security personnel have cited her interviews to media portals and newspapers as the reason for her detention, and she has been “threatened with dire consequences if I speak up again”.

“Is it a crime to articulate the pain, torment and indignity we have been subjected to? Does it warrant a detention to describe our plight?” the letter, accessed by some media groups, says.

Iltija had last week written a guest article for The Telegraph in which she criticised the Centre’s moves to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and impose a lockdown, and urged Indians to speak up against these decisions.

This correspondent had tried to contact Iltija this week but a “bunker vehicle” blocked the gate of her home in Gupkar, Srinagar, and security men said no family member was inside. Mehbooba too lives in the house but has been detained at the Cheshma Shahi huts, designated as a sub-jail.

It’s not clear how the letter, circulated along with a voice message from Iltija, got out in the absence of any communication channels.

“It has now been over 10 long agonising days since this crippling curfew was imposed. The Valley is gripped with fear because all phones of communication have been snapped, thereby debilitating an entire population,” the letter says. “Kashmiris have been caged like animals and deprived of basic human rights.”

It adds: “Unfortunately, for reasons best known to you I have also been detained at my residence. We are not even told when visitors are turned away from the gate and I am not allowed to step out either. Odd, since I am not affiliated to any political party and I have always been a law-abiding citizen.

“I will be most obliged if you kindly throw light on

the laws under which I have been detained and for how long. Do I need to seek legal recourse? It is suffocating and humiliating to be treated in this manner.

“For the world’s largest democracy, does not a citizen have a right to speak up in the face of unimaginable repression? Satyamev Jayate, that is, truth only triumphs, had defined the spirit of our country and its constitution. It’s a tragic irony that I am being treated like a war criminal for stating the inconvenient truth.”

Iltija and Mehbooba’s elder daughter Irtika are believed to have been involved in power politics but only from behind the scenes. People’s Democratic Party sources claim Iltija managed Mehbooba’s Twitter handle.

In her voice message, Iltija says she has decided to formally write to the home minister to learn the reasons for her detention.

In the letter, she says she had made several unsuccessful attempts to gain a degree of clarity on her detention before she decided to write to Shah.

“Hope and pray that I am not punished/penalised or arrested for raising questions about my fundamental rights. Kashmir is engulfed in clouds of darkness and I fear for the safety of its people, including those who spoke up. We Kashmiris are reeling in despair since the unilateral abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019,” it says.

Iltija has expressed concern in the letter over the safety of her mother and the hundreds of other political detainees.