The Statesman – Farooq Abdullah’s detention under PSA extended by 3 months

The Centre had earlier while justifying the imposition of restrictions on Kashmir post-05 August, told the Supreme Court that political leaders in Kashmir instigated an uprising propagating anti-India sentiments through several public speeches.

New Delhi – India, 14 December 2019. The detention of Farooq Abdullah, a three-term chief minister of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, was extended on Saturday under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) by three months and he would continue to remain at his residence that has been declared a sub-jail, officials said here.

Abdullah, a five-time Parliamentarian, has been under detention since 05 August when the Centre abrogated special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state.

PSA was first slapped against him on September 17, hours before the Supreme Court was to hear a petition by MDMK leader Vaiko who claimed that the NC leader was detained illegally.

Farooq Abdullah’s detention under PSA extended by 3 months

The Tribune – Sikh activists barred from entering Kashmir

Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 09 December 2019. Citing law and order, activists of the Dal Khalsa and Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) were today barred from entering Jammu and Kashmir. They were scheduled to go to Srinagar to hold a peaceful sit-in at Lal Chowk to observe Human Rights Day tomorrow.

Acting upon the orders of the Kathua magistrate, the police intercepted them at the Madhopur-Kathua interstate border.

The protesters were carrying placards to convey their message and sought release of political prisoners in Kashmir and Punjab.

Dal Khalsa leader H D Dhami said when Home Minister Amit Shah had announced that everything was normal in Kashmir, why were they not allowed to go there? “This prompts us to say that there is no normalcy in Kashmir and Union Government has been telling lies to hoodwink the world,” he said.

Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwarpal Singh, while speaking at the sit-in at the border, said, “It is ironical that even on the occasion of Human Rights Day, we were not allowed to talk and uphold human rights.”

The agitating Sikh leaders said it would be brought to the notice of the United Nations Human Rights Council how Kashmiri people had been reeling under state repression since the August 5 lockdown.

Dawn – Resolution in US Congress seeks end to repression in occupied Kashmir

Anwar Iqbal

Washington DC – USA, 08 December 2019. A bipartisan resolution moved in the US Congress urges India to end the restrictions on communications and mass detentions in occupied Kashmir as swiftly as possible and preserve religious freedom for all residents.

Resolution 745 was jointly moved on Friday by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat, and Congressman Steve Watkins, a Republican. Born in Madras (Chennai). Ms Jayapal is the first Indian-American woman to serve in the US House of Representatives. She is also a prominent human rights activist. Mr Watkins is a veteran of the Afghan war and conducted combat along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The movers resolve that the House recognises the dire security challenges India faces in Jammu and Kashmir, including “cross-border terrorism,” but rejects arbitrary detention, use of excessive force against civilians, and suppression of peaceful expression of dissent as proportional responses to security challenges.

The resolution urges India to ensure that any actions taken in pursuit of legitimate security priorities respect the human rights of all people and adhere to international human rights law.

It also urges India to lift the remaining restrictions on communication and to restore internet access across the occupied valley as swiftly as possible.

The Indian government has been urged to refrain from the use of threats and excessive force against detained people and peaceful protesters and release detained people.

It urges the Indian government to refrain from conditioning the release of detained people on their willingness to sign bonds prohibiting any political activities and speeches.

New Delhi has been urged to allow international human rights observers and journalists to access the occupied valley and operate freely throughout India, without threats; and condemn, at the highest levels, all religiously motivated violence, including violence targeting religious minorities.

The resolution reminds India that international human rights law holds that all people have the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including freedom to practice, worship, or observe one’s own religion.

The movers note that on 05 August, the Indian government cut all telephone service and internet access in the occupied valley.

The Statesman – We are not criminals,’ Shashi Tharoor tweets Lok Sabha MP Farooq Abdullah’s letter

Calling it a ‘preventative measure’ the Centre has detained thousands of Kashmiris including Srinagar MP Farooq Abdullah under the Public Safety Act, which allows the authorities to detain an individual without trial for two years.

New Delhi – India, 06 December 2019. As Kashmir completed four months of unprecedented communication and movement lockdown, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor shared a letter by former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and member of Parliament Farooq Abdullah, who called out the government for not allowing him to attend the winter session of parliament.

Former chief ministers, Omar Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti, whose Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was in an alliance with the BJP, are among hundreds of local political leaders who are under arrest in one of the two newest Union Territories.

“Thank you for your letter on 21st October 2019 which has been delivered to me today by my magistrate who looks after me while I am in the sub-jail,” Mr Abdullah said in the letter. “It is most unfortunate that they are not able to deliver me my post in time. I am sure this is not the way to treat a senior Member of the Parliament and leader of a political party. We are not criminals,” the National Conference chief said.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has given no certain date for when the lockdown will be uplifted. Calling it a ‘preventative measure’ the Centre has detained thousands of Kashmiris including Srinagar MP Farooq Abdullah under the Public Safety Act, which allows the authorities to detain an individual without trial for two years.

The opposition has been raising the issue of prolonged political detention in Jammu and Kashmir, alleging that the Centre is not freeing Abdullah to stop him from speaking up.

“Letter from imprisoned Farooq saab. Members of Parliament should be allowed to attend the session as a matter of parliamentary privilege. Otherwise the tool of arrest can be used to muzzle opposition voices. Participation in parliament is essential for democracy and popular sovereignty,” Tharoor tweeted along with the letter.

‘We are not criminals,’ Shashi Tharoor tweets Lok Sabha MP Farooq Abdullah’s letter – Dal Khalsa, SAD (A) announces to mark World Human Rights Day in Kashmir

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 05 December 2019. Perturbed over the plight of Kashmiri people who’s rights are being suppressed and abused en masse by the India’s fascist regime led by PM Narendra Modi, the Dal Khalsa along with SAD (Amritsar) has decided to observe the World Human Rights Day on the soil of Kashmir, where the worst human rights violations have occurred during 2019.

Being geographical neighbors of Kashmir, it is the duty of Sikhs of Punjab to rise to the occasion and continue to protest the deteriorating human rights situation in Kashmir, said Dal Khalsa leaders at a press conference held at party office in Amritsar Sahib.

Dal Khalsa spokesman Kanwar Pal Singh said their groups would observe the rights day with the people of Kashmir who have suffered the gravest abuses of human rights. “The fundamental rights of the people of Kashmir are our primary concern and it will be our endeavor to highlight the plight of Kashmiris,” he added.

Giving a call to human rights defenders to join the peaceful sit-in at Lal Chowk on December 10, he said teams of both the organizations led by Simranjit Singh Mann and Harpal Singh Cheema will proceed towards Kashmir from Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur on 09 December and reach Srinagar the next morning (10th). He said UAD president Gurdeep Singh Bhatinda and Akal Federation head Narien Singh would also join the march.

Dal Khalsa appeals to all human rights bodies and civil rights groups worldwide to spare a thought for the people of Kashmir when they observe the 72 years of World Human Rights Day in their states and countries.

Deriding international bodies for paying only lip service to the cause of Kashmir, the Dal Khalsa statement stated that, “The suppressed people of Kashmir need succour, support and an international voice to uphold their rights.”

On the occasion of Human Rights Day, Dal Khalsa will also voice concern about systematic denial of justice in Punjab in the Maur Bomb blast case, the Behbal Kalan firing case and Bargarhi sacrilege cases.

The Dal Khalsa will also take the cause of custodial torture, illegal detention and harassment of under trials, prevalence of archaic laws, like 124-A, UAPA, denial of reprieve to political prisoners and special concessions to police personnel responsible for human rights abuses.

Replying to a question on BJP government’s U-turn on commuting death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana, he said the Modi dispensation has played fraud on Sikhs that too in the name of giving special remission to Sikh prisoners on the sacred occasion of 550th Parkash Purab of Guru Nanak Sahib.

“Indian leadership is habitual of ditching the Sikhs since 1947 and traditional Akali leadership is immune in facing such betrayals and embarrassments,” he added.

Dal Khalsa general secretary Paramjit Singh Tanda and SYP head Paramjeet Singh Mand were also present during the meet.

Dal Khalsa, SAD (A) announces to mark World Human Rights Day in Kashmir

The Print – Why Kashmiri Pandits can’t return to the Valley, even if they want to

When there exists no practical policy or intent to rebuild Kashmiri Pandit homes, how can anyone expect us to give a sure-shot answer on whether we want to return or not?

Ieshan Vinay Misri

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 05 December 2019. The question of Kashmiri Pandits returning to Kashmir is again up in the air as a more-or-less renowned journalist for an online media house just published something about it.

I personally don’t care about what exactly is opined in the said article as facts, especially the historical facts, about Kashmir in general and about Kashmiri Pandits’ communally forced exodus in particular.

Even after 30 years, the facts and the interpretations of those historical facts about the Kashmiri Pandit exodus are still either denied, misrepresented or misconstrued, and still the onus of proving the crime against them is on the Pandits themselves.

After questioning everything Kashmiri Pandits are and stand for or what they have been through, even the successes have been used as a narrative to whitewash the atrocities on them. And then they are asked whether they would go back.

Above all, the questions, will you return? When will you return? How many will return? are now another instrument to deny justice. Even if you say “yes”, they say you really won’t. In this context, some very basic facts need to be cleared on why we as a community are ambivalent on the “question of return”.

To begin with, the question of returning to Kashmir that is/was home is an oversimplification. For most of us, home has been burned, wrecked and razed to ground.

When there exists no practical and pragmatic policy or intent to rebuild it or to make it habitable again for the Hindu minorities, how can anyone expect us to give a sure-shot answer on whether we want to return or not? Can anyone live in a wreck? Will anyone return to the place that still is in the same situation socially, economically and politically when Kashmiri Pandits were forced to get out of their homes.

Add to it, the constraints of xenophobia, security threats and threat of communal violence, which triggered the exodus back in 1990.

In addition, after the exodus, most Kashmiri Pandits had to start from zero. They worked and struggled hard against all odds. A person who was completely uprooted from a place and after years of toiling has made it all work for him/her, is now confronted with an existential question of leaving it all again, relocating, and starting again from a place that doesn’t offer much, where most of the youth are either unemployed, radicalised or studying/working outside.

Can uprooting oneself again or expecting one to take the whole pain of relocation again based on just some fantasy, which is nothing more than castles in air, be expected of the Kashmiri Pandit community? And if they are ambiguous, undecided or don’t want to go after struggling for 30 years to get re-established, they are judged, their plight is denied and their right to the place of their origin is discounted.

Plus, a one-room quarter that was provided after struggling in the tents for almost two decades is pronounced as some luxury. And, a false narrative of “non-existent” refugee camps is created wherein the fact that the tents got replaced by concrete quarters is conveniently misrepresented so as to hint that Kashmiri Pandits have already gotten enough and shouldn’t be demanding a dignified return to their homeland.

This narrative is a convenient denial of what and how much Kashmiri Pandits lost. It overlooks the fact that justice hasn’t been done even after 30 years. This narrative is a replica of the jihadi propaganda that Kashmiri Pandits left because they were given huge sums, lucrative jobs, and property by the government of India, but in reality, it was snake and scorpion bites, scorching heat and half a tomato.

Moreover, the simple fact that escapes the comprehension ability of some people is that Jagati Township is a camp because people there still want to return. The term ‘camp’ signifies the state of long-term impermanence regardless of the physical structure or the name. The very reason the Jagati Township is called a camp is because the history and events of Kashmir exodus haven’t reached their logical conclusion and justice still evades us.

Unless and until the practical constraint of the return of Pandits is not dealt with in a realistic and pragmatic manner, the question of return remains futile and meaningless. It is nothing but another rhetorical tool in the hands of those who want to deny the decades-long suffering of the community.

The author is a Research Associate at Citizens’ Foundation for Policy Solutions (CFPS). Views are personal.

This article was originally published on The Medium on 3 December.

Why Kashmiri Pandits can’t return to the Valley, even if they want to

BBC News – Kashmir conflict: Pro-India politicians feel ‘betrayed’ by Modi

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 04 December 2019. Dozens of mainstream political leaders and workers have been under detention in Indian-administered Kashmir since August, when India stripped the region of its semi-autonomous status. Sameer Yasir reports on why political workers in the valley feel betrayed.

Saleem Mir stood pensively by the window of his room overlooking the Jhelum river, which cuts through the heart of Srinagar and flows into Pakistan. Mr Mir, who toiled for years to get people to vote for Kashmir’s oldest political party, the pro-India National Conference, now feels like a total outcast in his own homeland.

Kashmiris like Mr Mir are used to being branded as “traitors” by their own people for siding with India during the 30-year armed revolt against Delhi’s rule in the Muslim-majority region. Many have relatives or friends who have been killed by militants for siding with India.

“Now we are also enemies in the eyes of India,” said Mr Mir, who belongs to Kulgam district, a region that has witnessed a spiral of deadly violence in recent years.

Enemies of India

In August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) oversaw a crackdown that they argued was necessary to prevent disorder in the disputed region.

It was stripped of its autonomy, split it into two federally-run territories, put under a lockdown, and most of the state’s political leaders and workers, including those who have been loyal to India, were incarcerated.

“Our intention is that politicians do not engage in any activities that could serve as a magnet for violence, as it has been the case in the past. A related issue is that social media and the internet have been used to radicalise. We want to prevent the loss of life,” India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said.

Mr Mir was among more than 5,000 people, including businessmen, civil society members, lawyers and activists, who were detained. Those still under detention include former chief ministers Omar Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, the first woman to be hold the position, as well as several former lawmakers.

Former chief minister Mr Abdullah, still a member of parliament, has been detained under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA), which allows detention without formal charge for two years, among other things.

Mr Abdullah, whose family had been instrumental in tying Kashmir’s future to Delhi, appeared on television before his detention and appealed to the people of India, saying he had stood with them and it was their time to reciprocate.

Mir Mohammad Fayaz, an MP belonging to the PDP, has written to the federal Home Minister Amit Shah, demanding the release of all political leaders. He said that the leaders had been recently shifted to a new jail in “a very humiliating and downgrading manner”.

Wiping out the middle ground

Kashmir’s political parties have always operated in a middle-ground, between integrating completely with India and seeking outright independence.

By the very act of participating in India’s democratic processes and fighting elections, they acknowledged Delhi’s right to have a say in the affairs of the region. But in order to win votes, they have had to speak the language of popular sentiment.

Therefore, its two main parties, the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) officially stand for Kashmir’s right to autonomy and self-rule within the federal structure of India.

And for more than a decade, after the insurgency ebbed, the status-quo in Kashmir largely worked in India’s favour. People voted in elections and India said it proved that democracy was thriving in the region. With the detention of the leaders, things have changed.

The latest move by Delhi has “wiped out the middle-ground held by Kashmiri politicians” and this void could be very well “filled by militants”, said Siddiq Wahid, a historian.

Mr Wahid added people would now confront these political parties by saying: “We knew it, we told you so all along.”

No trust

“The idea of mainstream politics is dead in Kashmir now,” says Kapil Kak, a retired air vice-marshal.

Mr Kak, a native of Kashmir who has been part of many initiatives aimed at resolving the dispute, said India has lost 70 years of its hard work in Indian-administered Kashmir: “Who will vouch for it now?”

Political workers, who have backed India despite facing threats, attacks and public humiliation, feel completely let down and fear for their safety now.

“We should have never trusted India,” Mr Mir, now a free man, said.

Rehman Sheikh, whose cousin, a founding member of PDP, was killed and his house set on fire in Shopian district, said Mr Modi’s government had simply “belittled my brother’s sacrifice”.

“The India for which we bled so badly has rendered us worthless by forcibly taking away our basic political rights,” Mr Sheikh said.

“Party workers come to us and ask ‘what is our future?’,” said Tanveer Alam, whose cousin, a former lawmaker, is also being detained. “I have no answers. I keep silent.”

We are finished

Mumtaz Peer, who saw his father killed by militants, said if “gunmen arrive at my door, no one will now come to save me”. “We are finished,” Mr Peer, who worked for a former state lawmaker, said. “We are just waiting for this time to pass.”

Mr Peer said that had the valley’s mainstream political class invested time and effort to lobby for Kashmir’s independence instead of trying to strengthen India’s hold on the region, people “would have achieved the goal of independence”.

“Our only problem is we are Kashmiris and Muslim. We fought for India in Kashmir and this is what we got in return,” Mr Peer said.

Ghulam Hassan Rahi, a politician who fought many elections in northern Kashmir during the heyday of insurgency, and continued his activism despite threats from militants, said now when he meets his political workers, he keeps his head down.

One worker, Mr Rahi said, recently confronted him, telling him that it doesn’t matter “how much bidding Kashmiri Muslims will do for India, Delhi will never trust them because they are Muslims”.

“I kept my head down and walked away,” Mr Rahi said.

The Print – Japan looked at situation in Kashmir ‘very carefully’ & hopes for a peaceful resolution

The Japanese Foreign Ministry’s comments came a day after India & Japan held their first foreign & defence ministerial dialogue to broad-base strategic ties.

New Delhi – India, 1 December 2019. Japan on Sunday said it looked at the situation in Kashmir “very carefully” and hoped that a peaceful resolution to the issue will be found through dialogue.

The comments by a spokesperson of the Japanese Foreign Ministry came a day after India and Japan held their first foreign and defence ministerial dialogue under a new framework to further broadbase strategic ties.

“I do not remember the ministers going into the detailed discussion on the specific issue,” Deputy Press Secretary in Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Atsushi Kaifu told reporters when asked whether the Kashmir issue figured in the talks.

“But at the same time, I can say we looked at the situation there very carefully. We are aware of the long-standing differences of views with regard to Kashmir. We hope a peaceful resolution will be found through dialogue,” he said.

Asked about uncertainty over the Japan-backed bullet train project from Mumbai to Ahmedabad after a new government came to power in Maharashtra, the spokesperson said officials of both the countries are working on it and that challenges occur in large projects.

To a question on China’s growing assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea, Kaifu said freedom of navigation and overflight must be ensured in the region, asserting that Japan does not compromise on security and maritime issues.

“Japan and China now have a lively relationship, but we do not compromise on security and maritime issues including on the South China Sea,” he said, adding that Japan has been trying to engage China in various ways and both countries are working on a bilateral visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Japan next year.

On Saturday, India and Japan, under the new framework of two-plus-two dialogue, discussed a raft of strategic issues, including the threat posed to regional security by terror groups operating from Pakistan, latest developments in the disputed South China Sea and evolving security scenario in the Indo-Pacific region.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar led the Indian delegation while the Japanese was headed by Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Minister of Defence Taro Kono.

Asked whether the 5G spectrum issue figured in the talks, Kaifu said it was briefly touched upon in the context of cooperation in the digital sphere. Beijing has been urging New Delhi to make an independent decision on allowing its telecom giant Huawei to participate in India’s 5G trial.

The US has banned Huawei, the world leader in telecom equipment and the number two smartphone producer, over concerns of security and Washington has been pressuring other countries to restrict the operations of the company.

On India’s decision to not join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the spokesperson said the countries of the grouping were trying to resolve New Delhi’s concerns as decided at its meeting in Bangkok last month.

Asked whether Japan was keen on carrying out development projects in Arunachal Pradesh, Kaifu said both India and his country were keen on rolling out connectivity projects in the North Eastern region.

Careful deliberations are on about possible areas of engagement, he said.

China has been opposed to any foreign-funded projects in Arunachal Pradesh as it claims the state to be part of its southern Tibet.

Kaifu said Saturday’s talks also laid the ground for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India this month for annual summit level talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

Referring to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s visit to India few days back, he said the island nation is a key country for maritime security cooperation and that Japan was also trying to expand cooperation with it.

Talking about growing Indo-Japan ties, the Japanese foreign ministry spokesperson also said that both countries can join hands to carry out projects in African continent.

Japan looked at situation in Kashmir ‘very carefully’ & hopes for a peaceful resolution

The Telegraph – In custody in Kashmir: Slap, kick and rats

How politicians were treated in captivity to make them fall in line

Murtaza Shibli, a British Kashmiri author and journalist who lives between Srinagar, Lahore and London, reports on the life in incarceration of several politicians in Kashmir since the August 5 clampdown.

Murtaza Shibli

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 20 November 2019. Shibli, who was in Kashmir when the crackdown unfolded, gathered the following information, which includes specific details, over several weeks.

He has put in the report only information he could corroborate with multiple sources, including officials and the relatives of some of those detained. Needless to say, given the situation in Kashmir, few were willing to be quoted on record. Several other names and alleged instances were omitted because of the lack of reliable confirmation.

Two weeks after the Darbar Move, a 150-year-old biannual tradition of shifting the main government work from summer capital Srinagar to the winter headquarters at Jammu, the bunch of demobilised unionist Kashmiri politicians incarcerated at the Centaur Lake View Hotel in Srinagar earned their own move.

But this transfer was without any darbar, bereft of the hoopla that would usually carry their caravans with vehicles and attendants, both official and party workers, amid a lot of ostentatious paraphernalia, all at the expense of the public purse.

With a controlled media, at Srinagar and elsewhere in the country, the relocation was artfully disguised as a progression for the benefit of the detainees, for, according to the news reports, all attributed to official sources, there were inadequate arrangements to deal with the rising cold.

This is simply not true. The Centaur Hotel is a four-star hotel with central heating that had been running smoothly in the past but suddenly became insufficient.

The transfer of the detainees, who include former ministers, legislators and bureaucrats who had benefited from New Delhi’s largesse for controlling and managing Kashmiri aspirations under the misleading rubric of “mainstream politics”, is a terrible demotion.

This is a ploy at their further denigration to wear them down psychologically. In the words of a family member of a detainee, this action was undertaken to “show them their place in the new arrangement”.

The new detention place is a part of the MLA Hostel that contains one-room or studio flats with little or no arrangement for heating.

According to information this writer received, there was no heating arrangement on the first night and the inmates, already shaken by the rough treatment during their transfer, quaked for the night. Next morning, they were each provided with a single-rod electric room heater that could barely warm one’s hands, that too when close.

The detention space has been fortified with large corrugated sheets of steel, making the small park at the hostel out of bounds for the inmates.

The entrances and the windows have been boarded up with chipboard and the remainder of the glass panes covered with a dark film to control the ingress of any natural light to a minimum in addition to blocking any outside view. This will create a ghoulish milieu for those cooped in.

Also, unlike the Centaur Hotel, the new place will face the frequent power cuts that are normal in Kashmir during winter, leaving the much-touted heating facilities practically useless.

For almost all the detainees, this would be their first-ever experience of prison-like conditions and, according to the official thinking that has guided the move, will soften them into submission.

So far, Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and many pro-India politicians such as Imran Raza Ansari (People’s Conference), Rafi Ahmed Mir (PDP) and Khalid Najib Suharwardy (NC) have reportedly furnished bonds to avail certain liberties in lieu of their silence.

All of them are now free except for the Mirwaiz, who has earned a reprieve from the NIA-led inquiries into his impressive portfolio of wealth and assets, allegedly accumulated without any known source of income.

The detention of over 100 days at the Centaur Hotel was not easy, either, as the politicians were deprived of their pampered lifestyles. After the initial shock of the loss of position and prestige, when some of them tried to create a sort of a routine they faced obstacles from the very police force that once danced to their tunes.

No one was allowed to go outside into the sprawling lawns. When the inmates finally settled for the hotel corridor to avail a walk, they would often be stopped by the cops or unidentified men in mufti.

In one instance, when Sajjad Ghani Lone was taking a stroll, a non-Kashmiri person looped an arm over his shoulder, unsettling him in the process. Lone stopped waywardly but was ordered to continue walking, carrying along the man who also asked for his introduction, yelling, “Tu kaun hey?”

This was rendered in an unflatteringly harsh tone, making sure everyone else around heard, so as to dismantle any pride left in Lone. The man then reportedly roared that it was he who had made Chowdhury Zulfikar Ali a minister in Mehbooba Mufti’s previous government.

Earlier, Lone had managed to sweet-talk an on-duty police officer and use his phone to call a person who was purportedly Amit Shah. A call that lasted a couple of minutes saw “Lone pleading like a baby” and reminding the listener of his and his family’s sacrifices for “the country and the BJP in the state”.

The receiver of the call apparently promised to talk to him again. But soon afterwards, the police chief was informed of the call and an investigation was ordered. The on-duty police officer was immediately suspended and the anecdotal information that has reached the outside world suggests that pressure was increased on Lone to completely cower him into submission.

Omar Abdullah and his father Farooq have shown the least or no resistance, with the senior Abdullah responding to the loss of his political standing with unsettling signs. “He often laughs without a reason and has little appreciation of the situation,” said a source close to his family.

However, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti grew agitated and, at one time, was locked in a fight with a lady police constable. One of her estranged family members in New Delhi told this writer that she had turned into a psychological wreck, and one day when she looked herself in the mirror, she was mortified and this resulted in the fight.

She was calmed down but not before receiving a few slaps on face and head from the lady constable, and, later, a lot of abuse from a senior police officer who had been given an extension before the amendments to Article 370. The situation stabilised after some basic make-up facilities were restored.

Mehbooba’s devaluation from a sprawling Chashma Shahi guesthouse to a nondescript government building that had been ravaged by the 2014 floods followed her daughter Iltija’s Twitterstorm over her mother’s poor health.

The pressures of life inside the Centaur had already unsettled many former legislators. After a week into his detention, National Conference MLC Showkat Hussain Ganai started criticising his party’s founder, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, for what he termed “the serfdom of Kashmiris”. When he couldn’t control his acidic gob, another NC leader beat him up.

Naeem Akhtar, former minister of education in the PDP, won heaps of rebuke for his unwarranted interventions. The vocal among the lot -– Bashir Veeri, Nizam-ud-Din Bhat and Shah Faesal, were bitten by rats they believe were deliberately let loose in their rooms as a sort of punishment.

Most of the detained politicians were seized during raids on the night between August 4 and 5. The operation was led by the Special Operations Group of the Jammu and Kashmir police, a force officially raised to fight terrorism.

Before being taken to the Centaur, they were kept in various police lines or attached government properties, closed from the public view with no contact with the outside world.

Some of them, like Sartaj Madni, a former minister and uncle of Mehbooba Mufti, and Altaf Kaloo, former MLC, were reportedly roughed up in the initial days before being shifted to Srinagar. Madni kept complaining for several days, not stopping to mention he had been a former minister. But more than three months into his detention he has mellowed down.

The new place is supposed to bring everyone else to order and wring out every possible trace of rebellion from their hearts and minds, and turn them into dependable assets, if not reliable partners.

Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter rebuts

Dear Sir,

The Telegraph published an article today regarding the current situation of political detainees in Kashmir. Your correspondent claims that my mother Ms Mehbooba Mufti has been manhandled by lady police constables and is a ‘psychological wreck. He then goes on to write that in the course of an altercation, she was repeatedly slapped in the face and head.

I have to admit that since her incarceration I heard all kinds of bizarre rumours but this surely is the most absurd one. The sense of disappointment one feels is compounded by the fact that this has been printed by a credible independent newspaper like The Telegraph whose recent coverage vis a vis Kashmir has been outstanding & based on ground realities.

Such cheap sensationalism stories certainly don’t behove a newspaper of your reputation that has stood up to the establishment & reported the truth.

I’m sure you will agree that Journalism certainly isn’t concocting nonsense and attributing it to ‘sources’. That’s Expected of Indian Rwanda TV and other pliable newspapers. Not the Telegraph.

In the course of these three months I have spoken up constantly about the manner in which Kashmiris have been brutalised. I also speak as an anguished daughter and find it quite odd that your correspondent didn’t bother double checking the lies that he eventually passed off as ‘the truth’.

The intention to malign Ms Mufti’s reputation is painfully obvious. I hope in the future you are more responsible about your reportage. Meanwhile, I recommend the gentleman in question sticks to writing fiction novels.



The Indian Express – Don’t misuse money bills, consult Rajya Sabha more: Manmohan Singh in Parliament

By Express Web Desk, New Delhi – India, 18 November 2019. On Monday, the former Prime Minister had criticised the government for the tanking economy and for its “juvenile” shutting off of economic data.

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, former prime minister Manmohan Singh said the role of the Upper House must not be undermined, and it should be allowed more time to study and debate Bills.

“In the 16th Lok Sabha, only 25% Bills were referred to committees as compared to 15th and 14th LS. Regardless of what the other House does, it is crucial for our House to form select committees to ensure Bills received go through detailed scrutiny,” Singh said.

The Congress MP from Rajasthan said misuse of the Money Bill provision should be avoided. “We have seen instances of misuse of the Money Bill provision by the Executive, leading to the bypassing of the Rajya Sabha on important matters. Those on the Treasury benches must ensure this is avoided,” Singh said.

“If not for the efforts of our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the Rajya Sabha would have been reduced to a mere revising House, relegated to a secondary position in the functioning of our democracy. He ensured the closest cooperation between the two Houses, and if that cooperation is not maintained, it will affect the working of our Constitution,” the former PM added.

Singh said the Rajya Sabha was a council of states, and hence it was all the more important that its voice was heard on the crucial issues of the day. “Converting Jammu and Kashmir to a Union territory has far-reaching consequences. The government should consult the council of states before such drastic measures can be considered by the House,” Singh said.

Earlier in the day, the former PM and former finance minister had come out with withering criticism of the NDA government on the state of India’s economy. Blaming the country’s tanking growth on the government’s “mala fide unless proven otherwise doctrine of governance”, Singh wrote in The Hindu that there was a spirit of distrust and helplessness around, which was stifling economic activity.

Singh also criticised the government for “hiding” economic data. “Shooting down messengers of bad news or shutting off economic reports and data is juvenile and does not behove a rising global economic powerhouse.

No amount of subterfuge can hide the performance and analysis of a $3-trillion market economy of 1.2 billion people. Economic participants respond to social and economic incentives, not diktats or coercions or public relations,” he said.

The former PM warned of more difficult times ahead unless corrective measures were taken, including stitching together the social fabric of the country. “Continued increase in inflation combined with stagnant demand and high unemployment will lead to what economists term as ‘stagflation’, a dangerous territory from which it becomes very hard for large economies to recover,” he said.

Singh also said India’s economy was slowing down at a time “when there is a unique and opportune moment in the global economy for India to capitalise”.

He urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “set aside his deep-rooted suspicion of industrialists and entrepreneurs and nurse us back to a confident and mutually trustworthy society that can revive the animal spirits and help our economy soar.”

Don’t misuse Money Bills, consult Rajya Sabha more: Manmohan Singh in Parliament