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Release of Abdullahs & Mufti in Kashmir to be a ‘political, not security call’

Mehbooba Mufti, Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah have been in detention since August when the Modi government scrapped the special status of J&K.

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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.

Also read: Public opinion in Kashmir has now been pushed away from India


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  1. Release of political detainees will be a welcome thing, but more important than that will be “release” of internet and other means of communication. Let the business of survival first become possible and stable.

  2. Kashmir has always been a political issue. The security aspects have consistently been dealt with adequately, erring on the side of more, not less. It is evident that the bonsai plants being reared in nurseries, Panchayat members staying in hotels, unable to visit their villages, are not going to replace mainstream politicians with any measure of credibility. On the world stage, including the US House of Representatives, immense diplomatic capital is being expended to keep a lid on things. How the economic losses will be reimbursed, what will be the fate of the critically important tourism industry, many more questions than answers.

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