PAGD leaders detained ahead of march against Delimitation Commission proposals
NC, PDP workers protest after detention of their leaders
Srinagar: Political leaders including three former chief ministers were detained ahead of a march by the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) to protest against the recommendations of the Delimitation Commission.
“Good morning and welcome to 2022. A new year with the same JK police illegally locking people in their homes and an administration so terrified of normal democratic activity,” National Conference vice-president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted.
“Trucks parked outside our gates to scuttle the peaceful @JKPAGD sit-in protest. Some things never change,” he said.
Abdullah, whose father and veteran politician Farooq Abdullah heads the PAGD, claimed, “Talk about a lawless police state, the police have even locked the internal gate connecting my father’s home to my sister’s. Yet our leaders have the cheek to tell the world that India is the largest democracy, hah!!”
He also posted pictures of a police vehicle parked on the gates of their residence as well as that of a locked internal gate.
Senior CPI (M) leader M Y Tarigami, who is the spokesperson of the alliance, said it was sad that the Jammu and Kashmir administration was “scared even to allow a peaceful protest”.
Tarigami said he was also put under house-arrest and his residence locked.
“This is where the situation gets worse when people are not even allowed to express their opinion before the public,” he added.
Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had also been placed under detention. “A truck is parked outside my house too,” she added.
The PAGD had proposed to hold a peaceful demonstration in Srinagar on Saturday against the proposal of the Delimitation Commission of increasing six seats in Jammu division and one in Kashmir. With this, the number of seats in Jammu would have gone up to 43 and Kashmir to 47.
Peoples Conference chief Sajad Gani Lone said the right to protest is intrinsic to the concept of a vibrant democracy.
In a series of tweets, Lone said he “can’t see any valid reason why the state administration should stop political parties from protesting”.
“Isn’t right to protest intrinsic to the concept of a vibrant democracy. Not being critical. But state administration really needs to reassess and reevaluate,” Lone said.
He said that democracy “is a precious relic for which thousands have laid down their lives in the last 3 decades”.
“Please do not unwittingly or erroneously damage it beyond recognition. Non violent mode of protest in the context of violent strife needs to be facilitated not stifled.”
The PC chief further said that by stopping political, non-violent protests, the J&K government was “incentivising and facilitating and setting the conditions for a violent form of protest”.
Congress’ Jammu and Kashmir chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir said the “house arrest” of NC president Farooq Abdullah was “unethical and undemocratic”.
“Keeping under house-arrest prominent leader like Dr. Farooq Abdullah ahead of proposed sit-in protest against Delimitation Commission draft is a sham, unethical and against the basic foundation of the Indian democracy which stands guarantee to freedom of speech and freedom of expression to every citizen,” Mir said in a statement here.
He said the “house arrest” was indeed a “gift” on the New Year’s occasion by the government and condemned the “illegal house arrest” of Abdullah and other leaders of the PAGD.
The Congress believes such a “undemocratic move” (detention of leaders) is bound to “further disappoint” the people of Jammu and Kashmir, “who have already lost faith” in the present dispensation, Mir said.
“Restraining” leaders from protesting in a peaceful manner is “indicative of hypocrisy on the part of the BJP government,” the Congress leader said.
Meanwhile, scores of activists of the NC and the PDP took out separate protest marches after authorities detained top leaders of the parties ahead of a proposed sit-in against the draft proposals of the Delimitation Commission.
The protest call was given by the PAGD – an amalgam of various mainstream political parties in Jammu and Kashmir including the NC, the PDP, CPI(M), Peoples Movement and Awami National Conference.
NC activists, including party spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar and youth wing president Salman Sagar, took out a protest march from NC headquarters Nawa-i-Subah here.
The party activists tried to move towards Gupkar Road but were stopped by the police outside the party office.
“We wanted to take out a peaceful protest march against the Delimitation Commission’s draft proposals, but were stopped by the police. They did not even allow us to hold a sit-in,” Dar said.
The NC spokesperson alleged the police “dragged” the party activists back to Nawa-i-Subah.
PDP activists also took out a protest march demanding restoration of Articles 370 and 35-A which were revoked by the Centre on August 05, 2019.
The PDP activists were stopped by the police near GPO and later dispersed peacefully.
Meanwhile, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti praised their party colleagues for the protests.
“Well done to my @JKNC_ & @YNCJK colleagues for managing to come out & register our protest about all that is being done to disempower the people,” Omar wrote on Twitter.
“Despite the despotic administration’s attempts to foil our protests, PDP & NC workers managed to hit the streets in Srinagar today to raise their voice against the illegal revocation of Article 370. I salute their courage & resolve,” Mufti said in a tweet.
On December 21, the PAGD termed the proposal by the Delimitation Commission of adding six seats to Jammu region against only one to Kashmir valley as “divisive” and said the alliance would stage a protest here on New Year day.