J&K Congress chief and former minister Ghulam Ahmad Mir was placed under house arrest Friday in Jammu where police also detained the party’s chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma for nearly three hours, whisking him away from the Congress headquarters when he was about to address a press conference.
Police gave no reason for Mir’s arrest or Sharma’s detention but one officer, who did not wish to be identified, said these were preventive measures because there was the apprehension of breach of peace. Sharma was released after being booked under CrPC sections 107 (security for keeping the peace) and 151 (arrest to prevent commission of cognizable offences).
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, in a tweet, said: “I strongly condemn the arrest of our J&K PCC Chief, Shri Ghulam Ahmed Mir & spokesperson, Shri Ravinder Sharma in Jammu today. With this unprovoked action against a national political party, the Govt has delivered democracy another body blow. When will this madness end?”.
Mir said he was at his Greater Kailash home when senior police officers showed up around 5 pm and told him that he had been “put under house arrest’’. He said the officers claimed they had “orders from the top’’. A day earlier, Mir had visited the party headquarters to unfurl the Tricolour.
From Verinag in Anantnag district, Mir is a former minister and a two-term Congress MLA from Dooru. This year, he contested the Anantnag Lok Sabha elections and finished second, ahead of PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti.
Mir’s house arrest came on the day the J&K administration announced that the situation was returning to normal in many parts of the state. In Jammu district, restrictions have been lifted.
The administration has not said how many people have been arrested or detained so far. But among the leaders held are NC’s S S Salathia, Ajay Sadhotra and Sajjad Ahmed Kitchloo, Congress leader Raman Bhalla, Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan leader Choudhary Lal Singh, Panthers Party chairman Harsh Dev Singh — all former ministers.
Meanwhile, Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter Iltija Javed put out copies of a letter addressed to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, asking him why she has been detained at her home and is not allowed to meet anyone. In the letter, Iltija asked if it is a crime to speak for her people.
“We are not even told when visitors are turned away from the gate and am not allowed to step out either… I am left with no other option but to write to you since I have made several unsuccessful attempts to get a degree of clarity on my detention,” Iltija said in her letter. She said security personnel posted at her residence cited her interviews to media channels as the reason for her detention.
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