Srinagar: Five Kashmiri politicians in detention since 5 August were released Monday, giving hope to the new union territory administration that political activity in the Valley could resume soon.
Political activities have remained suspended since 5 August, when the central government announced the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, with leaders of J&K’s mainstream parties such as the NC, PDP, and Congress being in detention.
It was only last week when the NC and the PDP were allowed to hold meetings at their respective party offices for the first time in five months.
The five leaders released belonged to the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). They are Ishfaq Jabbar, Ghulam Nabi Bhat from the NC, and Bashir Mir, Zahoor Mir and Yasir Reshi from the PDP. They were kept at the government quarters in Srinagar.
A source from the civil administration said their release will help resume political activities in the Valley, which were only being carried out by the BJP so far.
The release comes days after the central government gave a go-ahead to the J&K administration to hold panchayat elections in over 60 per cent seats in the Valley that has remained vacant since polls were last held in the erstwhile state in 2018.
The seats fell vacant following the NC and PDP’s boycott of the elections.
Lieutenant Governor G.C. Murmu and many administration functionaries have talked about holding elections in the union territory — a proposition so far rejected by the mainstream parties of J&K as the only priority for them was the release of their detained leaders.
All three ex-CMs still under detention
Among the released politicians, there are three former legislators — Jabbar, Bashir Mir and Reshi.
Reshi is considered to be a close aide of Peoples Conference chief Sajjad Lone.
The total number of leaders detained at the government quarters in Srinagar is now 24.
In Srinagar alone, 41 senior politicians, including NC leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti — all three former J&K chief ministers — were detained in August.
As many as 38 of them were taken to Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC) facility on the shores of Dal Lake, which was converted into a detention centre.
Farooq Abdullah was booked under the stringent Public Safety Act and his residence converted into a sub-jail. His son Omar was placed under preventative custody in Hari Niwas at Gupkar Road in Srinagar.
Mufti was initially kept in Cheshmashahi government guest house but was shifted in November to a government guest house in Lal Chowk due to extreme weather conditions.
The detainees at SKICC were also transferred the same month to the Srinagar quarters.