Srinagar: Political leaders in Kashmir, including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, were under house arrest on Saturday, ahead of a protest sit-in against the government’s intention to redraw the electoral districts of ruled Jammu and Kashmir by New Delhi.
Senior leaders of the People’s Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an alliance of five political parties, have been placed under house arrest, according to PAGD spokesman Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) .
âIn Kashmir, the New Year has started on another disappointing note where the police have resumed their job of scuttling legitimate voices and reducing democratic space by cracking down on protests against the Boundaries Commission. All of the PAGD leaders, including me, have been under house arrest, âTarigami tweeted, posting a photo of the locked door to his residence.
Police had locked the doors to his residence, said National Conference vice president Abdullah. âHello and welcome to 2022. Another year with the same J&K police illegally locking people up in their homes and an administration so terrified of normal democratic activity. Trucks parked outside our doors to scuttle @JKPAGD’s peaceful sit-in. Some things never change, âAbdullah posted on Twitter, along with photos of a police vehicle parked outside the gate of his residence.
âTalk about a lawless police state, the police even locked the interior door connecting my father’s house to my sister’s. Yet our leaders have the nerve to tell the world that India is the greatest democracy, hah !! Abdullah tweeted.
The leader of the People’s Democratic Party, Mufti, called the central government’s decision to prevent people from demonstrating âdisempowering J&Kâ.
âThe Indonesian government proclaims the removal of Section 370 and the dismemberment of J&K nationwide, but it is deeply paranoid and intolerant when the people of J&K want to protest its powerlessness. For the umpteenth time, we have been placed under house arrest for trying to organize a peaceful demonstration, âshe said in a tweet.
There has been no official communication from the Jammu and Kashmir administration or police on restrictions on political leaders.
The PAGD, at a meeting on December 21, expressed its “deep discontent” and “shock” at the recommendations of the delimitation commission established to redraw the boundaries of electoral constituencies in the territory of the newly formed Union of Jammu and Kashmir.
The committee recommended increasing the number of assembly seats from 83 to 90, including 43 in Jammu and 47 in Kashmir. In the current assembly, Jammu has 37 members and Kashmir has 46.
The political collective had called the proposal an act aimed at “dividing people on the basis of religion and groups” and announced that they would organize a demonstration in Srinagar on January 1. and the vice-president of the Awami National Conference, Muzuffar Shah, among others.
âThe constitutionality of the commission under the Reorganization Act has been challenged in the Supreme Court of India. The recommendations are very disappointing and divide, and will further weaken the people of Kashmir, âTarigami said after the PAGD meeting. âThis can only widen the gaps between regions and communities. As such, it is unacceptable to the people of the region.
The alliance called on the people to stay united and not fall prey to what it called the Bharatiya Janata Party’s divisive policy.
The PAGD, an alliance formed by five political parties in Kashmir, calls for the restoration of the special status of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir which was dissolved by the Union government in August 2019.
Later Saturday, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti congratulated their party colleagues for staging protests.
âWell done to my colleagues @JKNC_ and @YNCJK for managing to come out and record our protest against anything being done to deprive the people of their power,â Abdullah tweeted.
Political parties not associated with the PAPD also criticized the government for having derailed the demonstration.
Peoples Conference President Sajad Lone said he could find no valid reason why the state administration should prevent political parties from demonstrating.
âIt is not right to intrinsically protest against the concept of a vibrant democracy. Don’t be critical. But the state administration really needs to reassess and reassessâ¦ The nonviolent mode of protest in the context of violent conflict needs to be facilitated, not stifled, âLone said in a series of tweets.
The house arrest of Farooq Abdullah was “unethical and undemocratic,” said congressional J&K chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir.
âKeeping a prominent leader like Dr Farooq Abdullah under house arrest before the proposed sit-in against the Boundaries Commission project is a sham, unethical and contrary to the foundations of Indian democracy which guarantees freedom of movement. expression and freedom of expression to all. citizen, âMir said in a statement.
The Boundaries Commission for Jammu and Kashmir was formed by the Union government on March 6 last year, just six months after J & K’s special status under Section 370 was revoked and the division of the region into two Union territories – J&K with a legislative assembly and Ladakh without one. Previously, the demarcation of the constituencies of J&K was to take place in 2026.