Soz freed from 13-month home detention

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After facing house detention for more than 13 months, former Union Minister and senior Congress leader Saiffudin Soz was allowed to move around freely on Sunday by the J&K administration.

Speaking with Greater Kashmir, Soz said it was “for the first time” since August 5 last year that he was allowed to move out of his home “without seeking travel permission.”

“Today I visited my daughter’s house which is near my residence for almost one hour. I was allowed to leave my home freely, which was not the case earlier,” Soz said.

“Yesterday evening I was verbally informed by the security personnel that now onwards I will be allowed to move out freely,” Soz said.

The former J&K Pradesh Congress Committee president said that during his 13-month-long house detention, he was able to leave his residence only thrice. “For more than one year, I could just travel once to Delhi and twice to meet my ailing sister. This was possible only after seeking permission from authorities,” Soz said.

Last month attempts made by Soz to leave his residence got highlighted after he was not allowed to move out by the security personnel guarding his house. An agitated Soz had then spoken to mediapersons waiting outside his house from inside the perimeter wall, videos of which got widely circulated on social media. However, J&K administration had said that Soz was neither under detention nor house arrest.

Earlier on Saturday, authorities also lifted “preventive restrictions” on the movement of People’s Conference senior leader Abdul Gani Vakil. Confirming this, PC president Sajad Lone took to Twitter and wrote: “It is good to see @gani_vakil sahab released after being under detention for more than a year.Looking forward to meet him.”

Meanwhile, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has decided to raise the issue of continuous detention of its president Mehbooba Mufti in Rajya Sabha.

Party’s Member of Parliament, Fayaz Mir had last week also taken up the issue of “illegal detentions” in the Rajya Sabha.

Speaking with Greater Kashmir from New Delhi, Mir said he has given a zero hour notice in Rajya Sabha “during which he intends to raise the issue of PDP president’s detention along with a couple of other issues.”

“Last week I took up the issue on the floor of Rajya Sabha and will hopefully take it up again tomorrow along with a couple of other important issues,” Mir said.

Last month four senior PDP leaders had asked authorities to allow them to meet the party’s president and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who was detained under the Public Safety Act following the abrogation of Article 370 last year.

In a letter to District Magistrate, Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Chaudhary, the PDP leaders had said that Mehbooba Mufti has a “right to receive visitors as per the Constitution of the country.”  However, a senior PDP leader said that they had received a response from the district administration recently saying “that the request for permission was being looked into.”  “Apart from this one response, our request to meet the party president has neither been denied nor given a go ahead from the authorities,” said PDP media advisor and spokesman Suhail Bukhari.