SRINAGAR: As the winter sets in, the Jammu and Kashmir administration is looking for accommodation to shift 34 political detenues from Centaur Hotel as it lacks proper heating arrangements.
The winter chill has already started taking a toll on the health of the detenues — National Conference, PDP and People’s Conference (PC) leaders and prominent social activists — and the security personnel guarding them.
They have been lodged at the hotel on the bank of the scenic Dal Lake since August 5 when the central government announced its decision to abrogate Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and split the state into two Union territories.
According to officials privy to the development, Centaur Hotel, owned by Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), has submitted a bill of Rs 2.65 crore to the home department for 90 days of lodging of the detenues.
The administration has, however, rejected the claims of Centaur Hotel and argued that the facility was converted into a subsidiary jail on August 5 and therefore, government rates would be paid. The rates sanctioned by the administration would be around Rs 800 per day as against Rs 5,000 charged by the hotel.
Officials said some measures would be taken soon for shifting the detenues to different locations. The MLA hostel on Residency Road in the heart of the city could have been an alternative accommodation, but it is now occupied by former MLAs hailing from Jammu and newly elected councillors.
Unwilling to dislodge the former MLAs and councillors, the administration is looking for a state-run or private hotel for shifting the detenues.
Officials said talks are on with a private hotel, where some detenues, including Sajjad Lone of People’s Conference, Ali Mohammad Sagar of National Conference, Naem Akhtar of the PDP and former IAS officer Shah Faesal, could be accommodated.