NEW DELHI: The government on Friday told a parliamentary standing committee that detained political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir will be released gradually, but no time-frame has been fixed for the same. The Centre also justified the communications clampdown, enforced after withdrawal of Article 370, saying the move was “necessary” to prevent anticipated violence.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla told the committee that restrictions were imposed “in view of statements by senior leaders”, citing former CM and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti’s statement in July warning the Centre that “...tinkering with Article 35A will be akin to setting a powder keg on fire”. The measures imposed had ensured peace prevailed, he added.
Members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha quizzed top government officials on the detention of political leaders, particularly three-time former CM and Srinagar MP Farooq Abdullah, who was charged under the controversial Public Safety Act on September 17.
Home ministry officials told the panel that those detained under the PSA can challenge their detention in a designated tribunal. If not satisfied with the tribunal’s order, they can move the high court.
They termed the curbs on internet usage as “security measures”, reminding the panel how Pakistan had previously used social media to spread propaganda. The ministry reiterated that restrictions had largely been lifted and would continue to be removed in phases. The situation was returning to normal, they said, pointing to exams being conducted in nearly 700 centres and the resumption of train services and public transport as signs of that.