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Release political leaders, restore communication in Kashmir: Oppn to Centre

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New Delhi, Feb 5: The detention and arrest of all mainstream political leaders, including three former chief ministers, in Jammu and Kashmir invoked sharp criticism from Opposition members in both Houses of Parliament on Wednesday, which marks six months of abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution.

During the zero hour and in the debate on the motion to thank President Ram Nath Kovind for his address to Parliament, the Opposition members demanded the immediate release of the former chief ministers and restoration of normalcy in the State.


The BJP members, however, defended the Centre’s steps in Jammu and Kashmir and said the move has strengthened democracy. The recent protests against CAA-NRC-NPR also came up for discussion as the Opposition alleged that the BJP is trying to suppress the protests even as the ruling party maintained that the Opposition is behind the protests.

The Opposition members in Rajya Sabha questioned the detention of Farooq Abdullah under the Public Security Act and termed it as an illegal step. In Lok Sabha, the matter was raised during zero hour too.

“Three former chief ministers including Farooq Abdullah are languishing in jail for the past six months, they have been put behind bars without giving any proper reason,” Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said. “Abdullah has been illegally detained,” he alleged.

TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay also raised the issue. “I would request the government to intimate this House at least about his health condition,” he said. Congress MP Kodikkunnil Suresh also raised, but Speaker Om Birla did not allow him to complete it. “It is the responsibility of the government and House to ensure his welfare and also that he exercises his right as an elected representative,” Suresh said. Opposition members stormed to the well of the House raising slogans for the release of Abdullah.

Meanwhile, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that people detained in Kashmir must be released and the clampdown on communications must be lifted: “Thousands have been detained from the night of the August 4th-5th of 2019.

Many of them are lodged in jails in J&K and outside, detained in their residences under virtual house arrest or in other different locations. These include such people who have served as Union Cabinet ministers in the past, people like Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah (all three former chief ministers), Mohd Yusuf Tarigami, a four-time elected MLA to the now defunct Assembly of the State of Jammu & Kashmir, and many others,’ Yechury said.

“I am writing to you to demand that the detained persons be released and granted their liberty and freedoms as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. The communications clampdown must be lifted and the democratic processes restored immediately. These have severely impacted the economy of the region imposing unprecedented misery on the people,” he said.