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Allegations that Lone, Faesal 'Humiliated' as Detained Kashmiri Politicians Moved to New Location

According to Iltija Mufti, the manhandling started when Sajad Lone, an elected MLA, was frisked and asked to “undress”, a charge the police deny.

Srinagar: The transfer of Kashmir’s political prisoners from the Centaur hotel, on the banks of Dal Lake, to the MLA Hostel in the summer capital Srinagar on Sunday created a political furore.

Iltija Mufti, daughter of PDP President Mehbooba Mufti, alleged that the detainees were “manhandled” and “humiliated.”

“Police manhandled them & roughed up Sajad Lone (Peoples Conference chairman), Waheed Para (the PDP youth president) & Shah Faesal (bureaucrat-turned politician),” Iltija tweeted. “Is this how you treat elected representatives? Why humiliate them? J&K is under martial law & police seem be inebriated with power.”

Iltija has been operating her mother’s Twitter account for the past few weeks and has been critical of New Delhi’s actions in Jammu and Kashmir.

According to her, the manhandling started when separatist-turned mainstream politician, Sajad Lone was repeatedly frisked and asked to “undress”.

Iltija referred to Lone’s meeting with Narendra Modi in Delhi in 2014 when the latter was yet to become the Prime Minister. Following the meeting, Lone had referred to Modi as an elder brother.

Also read: Hotel With a View Turns Prison in Besieged Kashmir

“Sajad Lone, former separatist turned mainstream political leader stuck his neck out for PM in 2014 when there was no palpable Modi wave,” said Iltija. “If a man who PM Modi called his younger brother (Lone) is being humiliated like this, imagine the plight of others.”

She said Para’s work for strengthening democracy in J&K was lauded by former Home Minister Rajnath Singh while reminding New Delhi that Faesal was called Kashmir’s role model when he topped the UPSC exam.

“Once appreciated & now humiliated. Why?” she said.

A source said things turned ugly when the security men posted at the MLA hostel started “frisking Lone repeatedly”. “That is when the two politicians, Para and Faesal, intervened. It led to a heated argument between the security men and the politicians.”

Apart from Lone, Faesal and Para, several senior politicians from different parties – some of them former ministers and lawmakers – were arrested and shifted to the Centaur Hotel on August 5. The same day the government of India scrapped Article 370 of the constitution and bifurcated the state into two Union territories.

After their arrest, for several weeks, relatives and party workers of the jailed politicians were not allowed to meet them until Sajad Lone’s sister Shabnum Lone filed a petition in the J&K high court.

It was on the basis of the court’s directions that the government allowed relatives to meet the imprisoned politicians at the hotel which had been designated as a sub-jail by the authorities.

Also read: The Vacuum of Mainstream Politics in Kashmir

The detained politicians had been complaining about the lack of facilities at the hotel-turned jail. A report said that some of the politicians were terrorised by rats, giving them sleepless nights.

At least three of these jailed politicians including Nizam-ud-Din Bhat of PDP, Bashir Ahmad Veeri of National Conference and Mukhtiar Bhat, son of senior PDP leader Khalil Bhat, were bitten by rats.

An official said that the sudden dip in the temperature, following the season’s first snowfall in the Valley on November 7, had forced the government to move the politicians to the MLA Hostel.

Over the past week, the Valley has been reeling under the winter chill and the weather forecast has predicted more snow in the coming days. “The hotel lacked proper heating facility,” the official said.

However, Iltija has alleged that the new jail lacks proper heating arrangements.

“The windows of the new jail are blocked with wood, lacked heating facility and has surveillance jammers,” she said.

On November 15, the state administration shifted the PDP chief and former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to the government quarters on the MA Road in the city centre.

She was detained on August 5 and lodged at the government guesthouse-turned sub-jail in Chashma Shahi on the city outskirts.

Another former chief minister, Omar Abdullah, is lodged at Hari Niwas, the official state guest house located on the foothills of Zabarwan hills ahead of the highly fortified Gupkar road. He too was detained on August 5.

Also read: Omar, Farooq Feel Betrayed, Won’t Keep Quiet: Abdullah Family

Omar’s father and another J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah was booked under Public Safety Act and detained at his Gupkar residence which has been declared as sub-jail.

Earlier this week the state administration led by Lt. Governor G.C. Murmu hinted that the Centre might hold early elections in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

While the BJP has welcomed the move, the National Conference, PDP and Congress have said that the release of all political prisoners was a prerequisite for the start of any political activity in the Valley.

The additional director deneral of police (law and order and security) Muneer Khan said that the allegations about the mishandling of the politicians were “absolutely baseless”.

‘There is no authenticity in it,” Khan said. “Nothing of that sort has happened.” He said that the politicians were ferried in different vehicles and after, proper frisking, were let into their rooms.

“The frisk is a must to ensure they were not carrying any cell phone or anything which they can use to inflict self-harm,” the police official said.