Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Saturday slammed the centre over the alleged arrest of party leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, claiming that the ruling BJP was eroding the country's democratic identity through such acts.
"On what grounds have Congress leaders in Jammu and Kashmir been arrested? Is it a crime to speak to the media? It's now 15 days since former Chief Ministers who respected and abided by the Constitution of India just like our leaders have been under arrest," she tweeted, adding that even the relatives of the "arrested" leaders -- Jammu and Kashmir Congress chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir and party spokesperson Ravinder Sharma -- have not heard from them.
"Does the Modi-Shah government believe that India is still a democracy?" Ms Vadra questioned.
Her brother and former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had condemned the development on Friday, terming it as yet another "body blow" to democracy after the centre's decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcate it into two distinct union territories on August 5. The two politicians were allegedly picked up from a press conference.
"I strongly condemn the arrest of our Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee Chief, Shri Ghulam Ahmed Mir, and spokesperson, Shri Ravinder Sharma, in Jammu today. With this unprovoked action against a national political party, the government has delivered democracy another body blow. When will this madness end?" he tweeted.
The alleged arrests took place hours after the state administration announced that restrictions would be withdrawn, phone lines would be restored and schools and offices in Kashmir would reopen next week. "Our spokesperson in JK Shri Ravinder Sharma was illegally arrested while conducting a press conference. And so was the PCC chief Shri Ghulam Ahmed. We condemn this dictatorial move by the Modi government and demand that they be released immediately," the Congress tweeted on Friday evening.
"Widespread illegal arrests by the Modi government across Jammu and Kashmir show that the government doesn't care for civil liberties and democratic processes," the party alleged.
Scores of politicians were arrested in Jammu and Kashmir last week as the government sought to avoid a public backlash. Among the arrested politicians were former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, who remain in custody in safehouses in Srinagar.
On Wednesday, Kashmiri IAS topper-turned-politician Shah Faesal was detained at the Delhi airport while he was reportedly about to fly abroad. He was sent back to Srinagar, where he was placed under house arrest under the Public Safety Act.
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