Political leaders detained, activists protest in Kashmir

Srinagar: Kashmir political leaders including former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were on Saturday placed under “house arrest” to foil a protest against delimitation of constituencies even as their activists took to the streets to denounce discrimination against the Kashmir Valley.

The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) leaders said they were placed under “house arrest” by the police hours before a sit-in was to begin in the heart of Srinagar city against the award of six more assembly constituencies to Jammu region and just one to the Valley.

National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah said the authorities had parked trucks outside the gates of the house to scuttle the protest.

“Good morning and welcome to 2022. A new year with the same J&K Police illegally locking people in their homes and an administration so terrified of normal democratic activity,” he tweeted.

“Trucks parked outside our gates to scuttle the peaceful sit-in protest. Some things never change,” he said.

Omar’s father and MP Farooq Abdullah heads the PAGD, a grouping of mainstream parties seeking restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

“Talk about a lawless police state, the police have even locked the internal gate connecting my father’s home to my sister’s. Yet our leaders have the cheek to tell the world that India is the largest democracy, hah!!” Omar Abdullah said in another tweet.

Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti said the Indian government was “deeply paranoid and intolerant when people of J&K want to protest.

“GOI trumpets scrapping Article 370 and dismembering J&K throughout the country but is deeply paranoid and intolerant when people of J&K want to protest against its disempowerment. For the umpteenth time, we’ve been placed under house arrest for trying to organise a peaceful protest,” she tweeted.

PAGD spokesman and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader M Y Tarigami said he and other leaders were not being allowed to move outside their houses and have been put under house detention.

But PAGD activists hit the streets against the Delimitation Commission draft report.

The workers of National Conference and PDP raised slogans against Delimitation Panel and sought the return of Article 370 and 35A. Some workers of the two parties were detained.

Former Minister and NC leader Mohammad Ramzan Choudhary said: “It is unfortunate that leaders have been put under house arrest and they were not allowed to hold a peaceful protest.”

People had come from far off places to participate in the protest and it is undemocratic on the part of the government not to allow peaceful protests, he said.

Peoples Conference President Sajad Lone, who quit PAGD last year, said there was no valid reason to stop the protest.

‘”I can’t see any valid reason the state administration should stop political parties from protesting. Isn’t right to protest intrinsic to the concept of a vibrant democracy?

“Democracy is a precious relic for which thousands have laid down their lives. Please do not unwittingly or erroneously damage it beyond recognition. Non violent mode of protest in the context of violent strife needs to facilitated not stifled,” he added.

“If you stop political, non-violent protests, what are you incentivising by default? You are incentivising and facilitating and setting the conditions for a violent form of protest,” he said.

UNI

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