Jammu Leaders Freed From House Arrest

Straight Line News Network

Jammu, Oct 2: The administration has ended the house arrest of all politicians in Jammu ahead of local polls nearly two months after the Centre’s decision to abrogate J&K’s special status, sources reveal. The leaders and politicians in the Kashmir Valley, however, remain under detention or house arrest.

The Jammu leaders who were under house arrest have been released and restrictions around them have been removed, official sources said. The decision was taken two days after the government announced election for the Block Development Council, the second tier of the Panchayat Raj system in the state.

Official sources say that since Jammu region is peaceful, the decision to release political detainees namely Devender Singh Rana, Raman Bhalla, Harshdev Singh, Chaudhary Lal Singh, Vikar Rasool, Javed Rana, Surjit Singh Slathia and Sajjad Ahmed Kitchloo was taken after the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Election Officer announced polling for the Block Development Council election on Monday.

Nearly 400 political leaders, including former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah, were either detained or placed under house arrest as part of the centre’s massive clampdown after its decision to end special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and bifurcate it into two union territories.

Farooq Abdullah, 83, was placed under house arrest and charged under the Public Safety Act (PSA), a stringent law that enables detention without trial for three to six months.

The Kashmir Valley has been shut for the last 57 days with communication and internet blockade.

The polling for over 300 Block Development Councils will begin from October 24 in a single-phase election and counting will take place on the same day. Around 26,000 panchayat members are eligible to vote.

In the Jammu and Kashmir last year, regional parties including the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) boycotted the panchayat elections over the issue of special status. Over 12,000 panchayat seats in Kashmir are still lying vacant.