- Congress claimed its J&K chief and spokesperson have been arrested
- The administration has announced ease in restrictions in J&K
- Scores of J&K politicians have been under arrest since last week
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday condemned the "arrest" of the party's Jammu and Kashmir chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir and spokesperson Ravinder Sharma, saying it was another "body blow" to democracy by the government. His reaction came hours after the party claimed in tweets that its leaders were arrested at a press conference.
"I strongly condemn the arrest of our J&K PCC 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The alleged arrests took place hours after the state administration announced that restrictions would be withdrawn, phone lines would be restored and schools and offices in Kashmir would reopen next week.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 Govt all across J&K shows that the Govt doesn't care for civil liberties and democratic processes. #StopIllegalArrestsInKashmir," the party alleged.
I strongly condemn the arrest of our J&K PCC Chief, Shri Ghulam Ahmed Mir & spokesperson, Shri Ravinder Sharma in Jammu today. With this unprovoked action against a national political party, the Govt has delivered democracy another body blow. When will this madness end? https://t.co/1z3e7qHCDE— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 16, 2019
Scores of politicians were arrested in Jammu and Kashmir last week as the government sought to avoid any protests over its decision to end special status to the state under Article 370 and split it into two Union Territories.
Among the arrested politicians were former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, who remain in custody in safehouses in Srinagar.
On Wednesday, Shah Faesal, the Kashmiri IAS topper who quit the civil services for politics, was detained at the Delhi airport on Wednesday, reportedly when he was about to fly abroad. He was sent back to Srinagar, where he was placed under house arrest under the Public Safety Act. Shah Faesal had been sharply critical on social media about the government's move.
As part of a huge security clampdown to prevent any major backlash, phone and internet services were down in the Kashmir Valley and curfew-like restrictions were imposed.
But today, the state's Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam said the government offices in Jammu and Kashmir had become fully functional and schools would reopen from next week "area wise" and telecom services will be restored in a phased manner.
Referring to the Kashmir leaders placed under preventive custody, he said decisions will be taken based on law and order assessments.
"Preventive detentions are being continuously reviewed and appropriate decisions will be made based on law and order assessments," he said.