File photo of People's Conference leader Sajad Lone (C) | jkpc.in/Facebook
File photo of People's Conference leader Sajad Lone (C) | jkpc.in/Facebook
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Srinagar: The MLA hostel in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk witnessed fractious scenes Sunday when state authorities relocated political detainees to the government facility from the Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC), which had been converted into a sub jail to detain top Kashmiri politicians since 5 August.

According to state government sources, a couple of politicians engaged in a verbal spat with personnel of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) who were present inside the hostel to ensure a smooth transfer of the detainees.

A source privy to the happenings inside the hostel said a commotion broke out Sunday afternoon when an on-duty police official conducted a body search on the People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone, a former BJP ally, who objected to the policeman’s “behaviour”.

The verbal spat resulted in another argument between National Conference (NC) leader Hilal Lone, son of Baramulla MP Akbar Lone, who came to defend Sajad Lone. The Lone duo (not related) protested the search and said that they “were not thieves or thugs” to deserve “such treatment”.

The heated exchange prompted other detainees to intervene including Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Yasir Reshi, IAS officer-turned-politician Shah Faesal and PDP youth leader Waheed Para.

The source claimed that the spat did not escalate into a physical confrontation.

The state administration, however, described the transfer as being smooth. “The detainees were supposed to be searched after reaching the MLA hostel. Some of the detainees protested the measure but the matter did not escalate further,” a state government source said.

Senior-most police officials of the state however did not respond to calls made by ThePrint.


Also read: Public transport back in Kashmir as fatigue, winter ‘force residents to move on’


‘Modi’s younger brother manhandled’

Another source who was privy to the developments in the MLA hostel said that Lone was allegedly pushed accidentally before the search, which had agitated him and prompted other politicians to intervene.

Iltija Mufti, daughter of Mehbooba Mufti, who handles the former J&K CM’s twitter account later tweeted, “SKICC detainees shifted to MLA hostel, Srinagar today, Police manhandled them and roughed up Sajad Lone, Waheed Para and Shah Faesal.”

She added that if “a man who PM Modi called his younger brother is being humiliated like this, imagine the plight of others”  referring to an interview in which Sajad Lone had described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as his older brother.

J&K police officer Imtiyaz Hussain tweeted later in the evening denying the allegations.

Detainees complain about lack of heating

The politicians engaged in the spat are among the 34 detainees who were shifted to MLA hostel in Srinagar owing to their complaints about inadequate heating arrangements.

ThePrint had earlier reported that concerned authorities have had detailed discussions on moving the political detainees to Jammu where the weather is warmer than Srinagar.

The hotel management of SKICC had also reportedly submitted a bill of Rs 2.65 crore to the state government, which included expenses incurred during the three-month long detention of the politicians.

The transfer, according to sources, was made in batches of 3-5 detainees who were taken to the new location in police vehicles. Official sources said the politicians will be kept in the MLA hostel for the “time being”.

Authorities wanted the relocation to happen before the 40-day peak harsh winter period, locally known as Chilla-e-Kalan, which begins on 21 December.


Also read: J&K police not only detaining minors but making them pay for food in custody, say families


 

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