The first meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party in over one year’s time which was to be held at its party headquarters on Thursday was foiled as the police did not allow most of the PDP leaders to reach the venue by detaining them in their houses.
While some leaders assembled at the party office in the morning, around 10 of its senior leaders including former legislators and ex-ministers were not allowed out of their homes by police. Videos and photographs of several PDP leaders circulated on social media showed police not allowing them to leave their homes.
PDP leaders who had received invitations from party general secretary Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura to be a part of the meeting but were not allowed by the authorities included Naeem Akhtar, Waheed Para, Sartaj Madni, Nizam-u-din Bhat, Abdul Rehman Veeri, Zahoor Mir, Muhammad Khursheed Alam, Muhammad Yusuf Bhat and Aijaz Mir.
Former minister Naeem Akhtar shared a video on Twitter showing him not being allowed to leave his
residence for the meeting. In the video, Akhtar could be seen repeatedly asking the policemen to show him the orders that prevented him from moving out.
“Despite being free on paper and in govt submissions in High Court and Supreme Court, PDP leadership continues to be under illegal detention, without any official orders. Video from today – I wasn’t allowed to attend the PDP meeting nor were any of my colleagues,” Akhtar wrote on Twitter.
Addressing media persons at party headquarters, PDP media advisor and spokesperson Suhail Bukhari said the government was “misguiding” everyone by saying that all the mainstream leaders in the Valley were free from detention. “The video evidence of today is sufficient to prove how our leaders were prevented from moving out of their residences so that this meeting is not allowed to happen. We will keep raising our voices against the undemocratic and unethical steps such as illegal detentions,” Bukhari said. “Despite being deterred by these pressure tactics, we will keep raising our voice against the constitutional fraud committed on August 5 last year,” Bukhari said.
PDP leaders had last month also attempted to regroup “to discuss party affairs and prevailing political situation in J&K” for the first time since August 5, 2019 when the government of India scrapped the special Constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir. However, the meeting was also foiled when authorities did not allow 25 PDP leaders to meet at the residence of party patron Muzaffar Hussain Beigh at Nishat here.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti continues to be under detention for more than last one year and remains booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA). Mufti is presently under detention at her residence, which has been declared as a “sub jail” by the authorities.
Reacting to the meeting being foiled on Thursday, PDP general secretary Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura said “a letter of intimation had been sent to the authorities for the meeting. “We did not even receive any response to it,” Hanjura said.
“This is a discriminatory behaviour against PDP when even our letter is not answered. Why is it that only our leaders are under house arrest and PDP president remains booked under PSA month after month. On one side government of India is promising to restore a political process in the Valley but at the same time not allowing a basic party meeting,” Hanjura said.
PDP vice-president Abdul Rehman Veeri said, “We had applied for a proper permission to be part of the meeting but were not allowed to do so for the second time in the last two weeks.”
Muhammad Khursheed Alam, district president PDP whose vehicle was also stopped at the main gate of his residence to prevent him from attending the meeting said: “For last several months we are under house arrest. It is very unfortunate that we are not being allowed to exercise our basic right to assemble and talk. By not allowing us, today the government has been exposed for its lies in the Supreme Court that leaders in the Valley are free from detention,” Alam said.