The Union government has agreed to review the detention of political leaders, who continue to be in custody under the Public Safety Act, in Jammu and Kashmir.
The decision came after the three-hour all-party meet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on Thursday with the mainstream political parties of the region.
Sources said the demand for the release of the political prisoners came from Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in response, said a wrong picture has been drawn about the number of leaders, who still continue to be detained under PSA.
“The home minister presented data that only 12 of the original 40 detained under PSA are still in custody. For them, a committee will be set up to review,” BJP leader Nirmal Singh told News18.
The Centre’s historic move to scrap J-K’s special status in August 2019 led to the detention of several political leaders and activists in the Kashmir Valley. Gradually, the authorities released politicians under detention.
Leaders of People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) also demanded release of other prisoners, who are in jails outside the union territory. However, their demand for the return of special status under Article 370 did not cut ice with the PM.
“The Prime Minister pointed out that the challenge to (Article) 370 was sub-judice. He also said that the future development of J-K should be as per constitutional provisions,” a source said.
Consensus on delimitation exercise
The big consensus that emerged from the meeting was on the delimitation exercise.
BJP leader Ravinder Raina said all leaders present at the meet have agreed to be a part of the delimitation process.
Sources also said that Amit Shah promised that all parties will be given due representations and opportunities during the deliberations of the delimitation commission.
Delimitation is the process of “fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or a province having a legislative body”, according to election officials.
The Union home minister also reiterated the commitment of the central government to restore statehood to J-K.
According to the J-K leaders, PM Modi said that his government wanted statehood to be back in Jammu and Kashmir and elections to be held at the earliest. He also sought to address the concerns of the leaders regarding mistrust of the people in the Valley.
National Conference leader and former CM of the erstwhile state Omar Abdullah said that he told the PM that there is an atmosphere of mistrust between the Centre and the Valley. “The trust has been shattered,” Omar said.
Echoing similar sentiments, Mehbooba Mufti said, “Muskurake PM se kaha Kasmhir ke log bahut pareshan hai…Saans le to andar kar dete hai (I told the PM with a smile that people in Kashmir are worried. They are jailed at the drop of a hat).”
Central government sources said the meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere where all the leaders were given a chance to speak and air their concerns.