It was the first meeting after August 5, 2019; “It’s sad how we have normalised this illegal detention,” says Omar Abdullah.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Thursday allowed four senior National Conference leaders to attend a meeting called by party president Farooq Abdullah at his residence in Srinagar.
It was the first meeting of the senior NC leaders at Dr. Abdullah’s house after August 5, 2019, when the Centre removed Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and detained most of the regional leaders.
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Dr. Abdullah informed the media at Gupkar Road that he held a meeting with the leaders —NC general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar; provincial president, Kashmir, Nasir Aslam Wani; former Minister Abdul Rahim Rather; and former legislator Muhammad Shafi Uri.
“Once all the leaders are set free, we will sit together and discuss the issues properly. We will have the all-party meeting on the Gupkar declaration,” said Dr. Abdullah. Dr. Abdullah’s all-party meeting was not allowed on August 5 this year.
Dr. Abdullah said he was in constant touch with incarcerated Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti.
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“I am concerned about her prolonged detention. We do want to see her free and other leaders of Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.
He said people were facing “miserable conditions”.
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“As my dad was today allowed to attend the meeting called by Dr. Abdullah sahib, my father paid obeisance at the Hazrat Syed Yaqoob sahib shrine at Sonwar on the way to Gupkar,” tweeted Mr. Sagar’s son, Salman Sagar.
NC vice-president and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said it was “sad how we have normalised this illegal detention”.
“That we have to be ‘allowed’ to meet freely in spite of the government claiming in court that none of these leaders are detained is a blot on Indian democracy and rule of law,” said Mr. Abdullah.
The NC has decided to hold more such meetings in coming days in batches due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The meeting assumes significance in the wake of the NC’s habeas corpus petition filed before the High Court, in which the party claimed that 16 of its senior leaders “were illegally detained” and “placed under a continuous house arrest” since August 5.
However, the Jammu and Kashmir administration told the court that there were no restrictions on the movement of these leaders.
“The meeting was scheduled in the backdrop of the stand taken by the government in the High Court after the party filed a habeas corpus,” a NC spokesman said.