Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor and P Chidambaram came out in support of political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir who were put under house arrest Sunday night amid heavy troop movement in the Valley. Former chief ministers Omar Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah Mehbooba Mufti, and Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference chief Sajad Lone were put under house arrest as Section 144 CrPC was imposed in some areas.
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Taking to Twitter, Tharoor said, “You are not alone @OmarAbdullah. Every Indian democrat will stand with the decent mainstream leaders in Kashmir as you face up to whatever the government has in store for our country. Parliament is still in session and our voices will not be stilled.”
He further asked, “What is going on in J&K? Why would leaders be arrested overnight while having done no wrong? If Kashmiris are our citizens and their leaders our partners, surely the mainstream ones must be kept on board while we act against terrorists and separatists? If we alienate them, who’s left?”
Chidambaram said he had warned the government of any misadventure in J&K but they seem determined to embark upon one. Taking to Twitter, he said, “The house arrest of J&K leaders is a signal that the government will defy all democratic norms and principles to achieve its objects. I condemn the house arrests.”
The government order said Section 144 would come into effect in Srinagar from the midnight of August 5 and remain in force till further orders. While ruling out curfew, the order also said public meetings or rallies would be disallowed and there would be “no movement of public and all educational institutions shall also remain closed”.
Minutes before he was placed under house arrest, Omar Abdullah tweeted: “I believe I’m being placed under house arrest from midnight tonight & the process has already started for other mainstream leaders. No way of knowing if this is true but if it is, then I’ll see all of you on the other side of whatever is in store. Allah save us.”
Mufti tweeted: “Hearing about internet being snapped soon including cellular coverage. Curfew passes being issued too. God knows what awaits us tomorrow. It’s going to be a long night.”
Paramilitary forces remained deployed across Kashmir, while satellite phones have reached civil administration officials. On Sunday evening, a directory with the satellite numbers of administrative officials – deputy commissioners and senior police offiers – appeared on social media.
In Jammu, all schools, colleges and academic institutions have been advised to remain closed on Monday as a precautionary measure.