The Jammu and Kashmir government has detained Kashmiri political leaders after the district development council polls, triggering speculations about the government’s motives. Soon after the elections, senior People’s Democratic Party leaders Sartaj Madani, Peerzada Mansoor and Naeem Akhtar were taken into custody.
While Madani, who is the maternal uncle of former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Mansoor has been kept in the Anantnag district, Naeem has been lodged in the MLA guest house in Srinagar.
Days after his arrest, the police also detained advocate Hilal Lone, son of member parliament from north Kashmir Mohammad Akbar Lone.
Madani, Akhtar, Mansoor and Hilal were among leaders arrested on August 5 last year, the day the BJP government revoked Article 370 amid lockdown, communication blockade and arrest of thousands of others including three former chief ministers. They were released in summer this year after their preventive detention order was revoked. Akhtar was released on June 25. “It is like a re-run of post-August 5, 2019. No one tells us why they were detained, what charges are against them and when they will be released,” says an anguished relative of one the detained person. “It is ironic that you say democracy has won after the DDC polls and now you jailed democracy back after a brief session of voting,” he says. A PDP leader said another of their leaders from Ganderbal Bashir Ahmad Mir has also been detained. "Please don't quote me. Don't know after they see my quote they can take me as well," he said.
National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah Saturday said after the DDC results in some government has started interfering in the results arresting and threatened the NC leaders with a motive to make the chairman of the DDC other than of The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD in those districts where the alliance is all set to control the DDC. He said Shopian district president of National Conference Showkat Ganai and segment in-charge, Shabir Ahmad Kulay, have been taken into preventive custody.
“Now we realize why they are being taken into custody. Because one by one elected DDC members from Shopian are brought to Srinagar and they are forced to join the Apni Party. They are doing it with independents, PDP and Congress members. Now, unfortunately, yesterday an NC member who had won from Shopian was forced to join the Apni,” Omar said.
NC provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani says a number of their workers apart from three Hilal, Ganai and Kulay. He says they don’t know where they have been kept and what their preventive detention means. “There is no justification of these arrests,” he adds.
The PAGD won 112 of a total of 280 seats in the DDC elections, which were held in eight phases from November 28 to December 19. The PAGD is all set to control the majority of the districts in Jammu and Kashmir. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 74 seats with just three of those in the Kashmir Valley.
The police sources say a number of people including political leaders of different parties, separatists and others have been detained.
Post abrogation of Article 370, on August 5, 2019, the government kept hundreds of people including three former chief ministers under detention under section 107 of CrPc.
The usual procedure is that the police take a person into custody after fearing law and order problems under section 151 CrPc and then produce him or her before a Court within 24 hours. But in case of political detainees, after August 5, 2019, executive magistrates in different districts directly have been invoking section 107 CrPc and take them into preventive detention or turn their residences, guest houses and MLA hostels into sub-jails. Section 107 was not invoked in Kashmir for long but since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, this is being widely used.