SRI NAGAR: The two-month-long curb on political activities of leaders of non-BJP parties in Jammu following the abrogation of special status to J&K on August 5, was lifted on Wednesday, but the restrictions in Kashmir Valley would continue.
Official sources said National Conference leaders Devender Singh Rana, Javed Rana, Surjit Singh Slathia and Sajad Kichloo, Congress leaders Vikar Rasool and Raman Bhalla, and J&K National Panthers Party leader Harsh Dev Singh were released from preventive detention in the past 24 hours.
They said the curbs on movement on leaders were lifted following improvement in situation in the Jammu region. Sources hinted that these leaders were released after they agreed not to issue any statement on abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the State into two Union territories. While NC and Congress leaders were detained for their views on Article 370, NPP leader Harsh Dev was held for opposition to J&K’s bifurcation.
Notably, the release of these leaders comes ahead of the Block Development Council elections on October 24. Meanwhile, there is no clarity on when prominent political leaders under detention in the Valley would be set free.
Mainstream leaders, including two ex-chief ministers — Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti — have been either detained or placed under house arrest, while another former CM and sitting Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar, Farooq Abdullah, has been arrested under the Public Safety Act.
Speaking to this newspaper, Farooq Ahmad Khan, advisor to J&K Governor, said the detention of these leaders is one of the reasons for peace in the Valley. “It is not a perpetual detention... People who had to be detained under PSA were booked under that law. Those not seen as a major threat were dealt with accordingly.”
Meanwhile, NC leader and former legislator Devender Singh Rana said in Jammu the police told him he was free to participate in political activities as restrictions were lifted.