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Put Them under House Arrest, MLA Hostel Unlivable: Detained Kashmiri Leaders' Kin Seek Better Facilities

Relatives of the detained leaders rued that they are being harassed during meetings and the MLA hostel, which has been turned into a detention centre, does not have conducive living conditions.

Aakash Hassan | News18.com@Aakashhassan

Updated:November 20, 2019, 11:27 PM IST
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Put Them under House Arrest, MLA Hostel Unlivable: Detained Kashmiri Leaders' Kin Seek Better Facilities
Relatives of former legislator and National Conference leader Basheer Ahmad Veeri outside the MLA hostel in Srinagar. (News18)

Srinagar: Tanveer Ahmad and his associate walked past a battery of police and paramilitary personnel as they headed towards the MLA Hostel, Srinagar, with handbags filled with fruits, clothes, a broom, and an electric lantern.

Ahmad was going to meet his brother Basheer Ahmad Veeri, who was a legislator till August this year, and remains lodged along with the 32 mainstream political leaders, including former ministers. “Proper electricity is missing there and that is why I got a lantern for him,” Ahmad told News18.

Relatives of the detained leaders rued that they are being harassed during meetings and the MLA hostel, which has been turned into a detention centre, does not have conducive living conditions.

“The women who had gone to meet their relatives inside were not only subjected to frisking, but were even asked to remove clothes. They also asked us to remove socks and headscarves,” said Shehriyar Khanum, daughter of former minister Naeem Akhtar, outside the MLA hostel, adding, “This is very humiliating.”

On November 17, the government 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.

The relatives who came to meet the detainees said the new place is not hygienic and has no proper heating arrangements.

“This place is not fit to put up anybody, let alone people who don’t know why they have been detained in the first place,” Khanum said after meeting her father. The rooms measuring “10ft-by-10ft” lack proper matting and the place is only fit for demolition, she said.

WhatsApp Image 2019-11-20 at 18.00.42

Shehriyar Khanum, daughter of former minister Naeem Akhtar, walks out of the MLA hostel.

The day the political detainees were moved to the new facility, a spat was reported between some leaders and the security personnel.

On Sunday, sources said, when the first batch of leaders were moved in, an on-duty police officer conducted a body search on People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone, a former BJP ally, who objected to the policeman’s “behaviour”.

“There was a verbal spat and even another leader assaulted some of the security personnel,” a source said. However, the J&K Police said no such incident had taken place.

The same day, Iltija Mufti, daughter of former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti and who handles her mother’s Twitter account, wrote, “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 elder brother.

The scene at MA Road, Srinagar, on Wednesday depicted the situation inside. The relatives who were carrying carpets, towels, utensils and other commodities were barred from taking the cars inside.

“There is no proper heating and that is why, I got a carpet from home. The situation is so bad that I have to get a broom so that the floor can be cleaned before,” said Saqib Madni, son of former J&K minister and Mehbooba Mufti’s uncle Sartaj Madni.

“They are subjecting us to unnecessary harassment,” Saqib said.

The relatives of the jailed leaders are demanding that the latter be shifted to a better a facility and “if the authorities are unable to provide them basic amenities, then put them under house arrest.”

“We demand that they be moved to homes and kept under arrest there. In this situation, their health is deteriorating,” said Saqib.

Tanveer Ahmad said it is better if the administration moves them to the central jail in Srinagar or to the MLA hostel in Jammu.

Most of the mainstream political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, including three former chief ministers, remain detained since August 5, the day Union Home Minister Amit Shah stripped the strife-torn region of its special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and the state was divided into two union territories.

The hotel management of SKICC, where these leaders were detained initially, has also reportedly submitted a bill of Rs 2.65 crore to the government.​

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| Edited by: Sohini Goswami
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