Jammu and Kashmir Police on Saturday searched Srinagar’s MLA hostel, where detained mainstream political leaders are lodged, and claimed to have recovered 11 cellphones.
Inmates had earlier protested against alleged harassment of family members who visit them.
The official Twitter handle of former J&K chief minister and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti — the account is being handled by her daughter Iltija Mufti now — on Saturday stated that a detainee’s three-year-old son was “nearly strip searched”, which led to “an altercation between political detainees & JK police.”
SSP (Security), Kashmir, Imtiyaz Hussain denied the allegation and refused to discuss the matter further.
ADGP (Security and Law & Order) Munir Khan also denied Mufti’s allegations and said that 11 cellphones, which were smuggled inside, were recovered during the search. Khan told The Sunday Express: “Whatever she [Mufti] is saying…it is wrong. The MLA hostel is a notified subsidiary jail and as part of anti-sabotage check drill…we have recovered 11 cellphones that were smuggled [in] illegally. Investigation will be conducted…”
Khan maintained that the detainees had earlier demanded that there should be no frisking so that cellphones could be supplied to them inside. “We have to follow the drill. We cannot allow anyone to go unfrisked. How do you know what is going inside,” he asked.
The mainstream political leaders were kept under detention at Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) in Srinagar since August 5, the day the Centre decided to withdraw J&K’s special status and bifurcate the state into two union territories. They were shifted to Srinagar’s MLA hostel earlier this week, and there were allegations of manhandling by the police on that day, too.
Earlier on Saturday, family members who had arrived at the hostel to meet the detained leaders lodged a protest against what they alleged was harassment of the family members.
Mehr Imran, Srinagar Deputy Mayor Sheikh Imran’s wife and among the visitors to the subsidiary jail on Saturday, told The Sunday Express: “The security personnel deployed there are very rude and the families are being unnecessarily harassed. We come from reputed families. They can’t behave [with us] in such a manner. To protest against the harassment, all detainees lodged a strong protest against the authorities.”
The family members have said they are allowed to meet the detained leaders on Wednesday and Saturday every week.
Nuzhat Ishfaq, wife of National Conference leader Ishfaq Jabbar, another detainee, said, “They (police personnel) even ask us to remove the socks… if a detainee’s uncle goes to meet him, he is not allowed. We only ask, why humiliate us this way? We all come from reputed families.”
In a series of tweets from Mufti’s handle in the evening, Iltija posted detainees were subjected to “humiliating frisking & checking” on Saturday: “Seems like manhandling detainees wasn’t enough J&K police on ADGs orders has raided MLA hostel, Srinagar today & subjected detainees to humiliating frisking & checking. One assumes, certain J&K police officers drunk on newfound power are doing this to settle political scores. They are being treated worse than hardened criminals. Today, a detainees 3 year old infant son was nearly strip searched & this resulted in an altercation between political detainees & JK police. Request @PMOIndia to personally look into this to take stock of the situation…”
Iltija on Saturday also alleged that the Additional DGP recently “facilitated” release of a former MLA from SKICC and said that the “condition to secure their (detainees’) release depends on detainees willingness to join a new political front in J&K.”