No VIP treatment for politicians detained in Srinagar

By Sheikh Qayoom

Srinagar, Aug 27 (IANS) For nearly 40 former ministers and leaders of political parties in Jammu and Kashmir placed under detention and lodged at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Complex (SKICC) on the banks of the Dal Lake here, it is no party time.

Senior leaders of mainstream political parties including Ali Muhammad Sagar, Abdul Rahim Rather, Mubarak Gul, Tanvir Sadiq, and Altaf Kaloo of the National Conference, Naeem Akhtar, Abdul Rehman Veeri, Sartaj Madni, Peerzada Mansur, Khurshid Alam, and Farooq Andrabi of the Peoples Democratic Party, Sajjad Lone, Imran Ansari, and Sheikh Imran of the People's Conference, Hilal Rather, and Shah Faesal of the J&K Peoples Movement were taken into preventive custody following the abrogation of Articles 35A and 370 and the division of the state into two Union Territories.

The SKICC has been declared as a sub-jail by the authorities to lodge these political leaders.

"It is no party time for leaders detained at the SKICC. There is no VIP treatment for any one of them. They eat in a mess that serves normal vegetarian food including vegetables, pulses etc.

"No special food is served to any of these detained politicians. Yes, if any one wants to have a certain kind of food other than that available in the mess, he has to pay for it. It is mandatory to serve only the normal, mess food to detainees and we are following those instructions strictly," said an officer of the security wing who wished not to be named.

There are no recreational facilities for the politicians lodged at the SKICC.

"They sit at the lawns of the complex during the day where some of them prefer to do a little walk-around. All of them offer namaz (prayers) at the lawn.

"Family members are allowed to visit these politicians and there is no restriction on such meetings except that the visitor cannot come in large numbers on a particular day," the officer said.

Top sources said that no detained politician at the SKICC has been allowed any phone facilities.

Former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, who is currently a sittinG MP, also remains under house arrest inside his high security Gupkar Road residence here.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader, Yusuf Tarigami, who is reportedly not keeping good health, is also under house arrest at his Gupkar Road residence.

Former Chief Ministers, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, are detained at the Hari Niwas guest house and a Tourism Department hut in the Chashma Shahi area here, respectively.

Sources said phones were restored to both the detained former Chief Ministers two days back with the condition that these would not be used in any way to create a law and order problem.

Top sources here denied report that any parleys were held with the detained Chief Ministers by either state or Central government officials to engage them in the restoration of peace in Kashmir.

"These reports are strongly denied. Law and order, safety of people and a speedy return to normalcy are the top priorities of the administration right now.

"As of now, there is no decision on the release of these leaders from detention," sources said.

(Sheikh Qayoom can be reached at sheikh.q@ians.in)

--IANS

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