Even as the Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday tabled information in the Parliament stating that no leaders were under house arrest in Jammu and Kashmir, several political leaders who remain confined to their homes told this newspaper that "the situation on the ground is contrary to the MHA claims." Several political leaders said they continue to be under house arrest even after they were set free from the months long detention since August 5, 2019 when the Government of India scrapped the special Constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Among the leaders who remain under house arrest include almost the entire top brass of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). These leaders had tried to regroup thrice during the last one month but were not allowed to do so by the government. Videos of PDP leaders not being allowed by policemen to move out had circulated on social media on the day their meeting was planned at the party headquarters earlier this month.
Senior PDP leader and former minister Naeem Akhtar told the Greater Kashmir that he remains to be under house arrest while he has only travelled outside the premises "just twice or thrice in over last one year's time."
"How can one say we are completely free. Just two weeks back we had a meeting planned, for which we were not allowed to move out of our homes. There is also a party meeting planned for tomorrow for which we have applied for permission to which we haven't received any response till now. Imagine how free is one when you have to seek permission to even hold a party meeting," Akhtar said.
"Every since I was set free from detention, I have just travelled between Gupkar road, where I was putting up earlier, to my present place of accommodation. Besides, my visits have been restricted to medical checkups," Akhtar said.
Earlier in the day, Akhtar took to Twitter and wrote: "There are many categories of lies. Lies, white lies, data, judicial lies (spoken on oath), Parliamentary lies: This government excels in all."
Other PDP leaders who were recently not allowed to attend a party meeting by not allowing to leave their homes include Abdul Rehman Veeri, Ghulam Nabi Lone Hajura, Muhammad Khursheed Alam, Aijaz Mir, Muhammad Yusuf Bhat and Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra.
Senior Congress leader Saiffudin Soz told the Greater Kashmir that claims of MHA stating that all leaders in J&K were free from detention "were false" and that Parliament was being "misguided".
"The government has even lied to the Supreme Court. I am under house arrest and I am not allowed to move outside. If at all I want to visit an ailing relative, I have to seek permission from authorities. In fact for any destination outside my home, I have to travel in the police vehicle," Soz said.
J&K Pradesh Congress Committee president, G A Mir, confirmed that almost two dozen of the Congress leaders were under house arrest. Mir said there was "complete ambiguity in the way leaders were put under house arrest."
"While there are no written orders for preventive house detention of any of the leaders but the situation on the ground is completely different. The policemen guarding the premises of our leaders don't allow them to move out," said Mir. "Even for visiting a bereaved family they have to seek permission," Mir said.
Mir said there were "office bearers, general secretaries and and other important Congress functionaries who remain under house arrest." "There are almost 15 such leaders who are under house arrest in the Valley and 10 of them in Jammu whose movement is completely restricted," Mir said.