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Home Secretary gives no time frame for releasing leaders

Home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla has addressed a parliamentary panel about the issue of detentions of politicians in Kashmir since abrogation of Article 370. He said that the house arrest will continue until law and order improves in the Valley. H...

, ET Bureau|
Nov 16, 2019, 08.17 AM IST
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PTI
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Union Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah and Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla (left)
New Delhi: Political leaders under house arrest will be freed once the law and order situation improves in the Valley, home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla told a parliamentary panel, without giving a time frame.

The committee headed by Congress leader Anand Sharma met on Friday for the first time after abrogation of Article 370 and sought to raise the issue of detentions of politicians, children and shutdown, sources familiar with the matter said.

Home ministry officials, however, remained non-committal when MPs asked them about the possibility of an all-party delegation visiting the Union Territory. Some members of the European Parliament had visited the Valley recently.

Besides Bhalla, home ministry officials included additional secretary (J&K, Ladakh affairs) Gyanesh Kumar and NCRB DG Ram Phal Pawar among others.

The officials presented the data on violence since 1990 when more than 41,000 persons, including security forces, civilians and militants were killed in over 71,000 incidents.

The home secretary justified the restrictions and curbs in the Valley for the past 3 months while referring to the cycle of violence in 2016 after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) commander Burhan Wani, sources said.

While referring to the internet curbs and communication clampdown, home ministry officials are learnt to have cited the use of social media by Pakistan to spread propaganda.

They, however, informed the MPs that all landline services, post-paid mobile voice phone services have been restored in both UTs and restrictions under Section 144 on movement withdrawn or relaxed, except for the night restrictions.

Another home ministry official justified the detention of politicians while citing their public statements before the abrogation of Article 370. On repealing of Article 370 and 35-A of the constitution, which provided special status for the people of the state on jobs and residency, National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah is accused of issuing statements aimed at mobilising people against the state.

MHA officials told the parliamentary panel that those detained under the PSA can challenge their detention in a designated tribunal. If not satisfied with the order of the tribunal, they can move the high court. Abdullah is the only political leader detained under the PSA in Kashmir.

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