New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government’s decision to release three former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers who have been in detention since August — Mehbooba Mufti, Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah — will be a political call and not a security one, ThePrint has learnt.
“It is a political call that needs to be taken,” a source in the decision-making hierarchy told ThePrint when asked about the release of the three former CMs.
Sources said the security agencies are confident the situation in Jammu and Kashmir won’t tip over beyond a point with the release of these political detainees.
In August, the Modi government had scrapped the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two union territories — Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. The three senior Kashmiri leaders have been in detention ever since, leading to widespread international criticism.
Earlier in December, the government said the detentions were made to prevent any untoward incident and breach of peace in the aftermath of the scrapping of Article 370.
It has also repeatedly said the situation in J&K is “normal”, but has shied away specifying a date for the release of political detainees.
Home Minister Amit Shah said this month the local administration will take a decision on releasing detained political leaders, including the three former CMs, in the newly-formed UT. The central government will not interfere in the matter, he said.
However, the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is led by a Lieutenant Governor who reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
‘All stakeholders involved’
Defending the Modi government’s move to not release the detainees, a second top government official told ThePrint that a decision isn’t taken solely on the basis of inputs from one agency.
“The government takes a decision based on inputs from all stakeholders. In the issue of Kashmir, there are various stakeholders — the intelligence, security agencies, security forces and others. A holistic decision is taken,” the official said.
The Home Ministry has said a total of 5,161 people, including stone-pelters and former chief ministers, have been in preventive detention since 4 August.
The UT is also expected to see an ease in restrictions in the coming weeks, added the sources. It has been under severe restrictions for over five months now including a ban on the internet.