Police have strongly denied reports that three Jammu and Kashmir political leaders were manhandled on Sunday while being shifted to a detention centre in Srinagar. The three leaders - Sajjad Lone, Shah Faisal and Waheed Para - were among 34 being detained at the city's Centaur Hotel and were being moved to the MLA Hostel because the facility lacked proper heating to deal with the Kashmiri winter.
The police response came after allegations of manhandling were levelled by Iltija Mufti, the daughter of PDP leader and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, via her mother's Twitter account. Authorities said the detained leaders had only been subject to routine frisking and luggage checks before they were shifted.
"Apropos some twitter handle claiming manhandling of some people at MLA hostel Srinagar, it is hereby clarified that no such incident has taken place. Mandatory security drills were followed as required for lodgement," senior J&K cop Imtiyaz Hussain wrote on Twitter.
Apropos some twitter handle claiming manhandling of some people at MLA hostel Srinagar,it is hereby clarified that no such incident has taken place. Mandatory security drills were followed as required for lodgement.— Imtiyaz Hussain (@hussain_imtiyaz) November 17, 2019
In a series of tweets posted around an hour ago, Iltija Mufti criticised the centre for physically abusing the three leaders. She also alleged that the new detention centres "lacked heaters, had surveillance jammers and had windows blocked with wood".
"If a man who(m) PM Modi called his younger brother is being humiliated like this, imagine (the) plight of others," she said, referring to People's Conference chief Sajjad Lone.
Manhandling started when Sajad Lone was repeatedly frisked & asked to undress. New jail windows are blocked with wood,lacks heaters & has surveillance jammers. If a man who PM Modi called his younger brother is being humiliated like this, imagine plight of others— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) November 17, 2019
She also highlighted at least two other leaders whom she claimed had been manhandled, writing, "the very same Shah Faesal who was called Kashmir's role model... ".
The same Waheed Para whose work for strengthening democracy in J&K was lauded by former Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh.The very same Shah Faesal who was called Kashmir's role model when he topped UPSC exam. Once appreciated & now humiliated. Why?— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) November 17, 2019
Hundreds of political leaders, including Ms Mufti and former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, have been held under house arrest or been detained since early August, when the centre announced its contentious decision on Article 370.
On Friday Ms Mufti was moved out of Srinagar's Chashme Shahi resort. "Mehbooba has been shifted to a house with proper heating facilities. She had been complaining of chilly conditions lately," a senior official told NDTV.
However, both Omar Abdullah and his 83-year-old father, Farooq Abdullah, who has been charged under the strict Public Safety Act, have chosen to remain where they are.
The detention of leaders was part of a security lock-down that included the snapping of phone and internet services. On Friday Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla justified the centre's actions, including the continued detention of senior politicians as a "necessary... in view of statements by senior leaders of state" that would allegedly provoke violence.
According to a report by news agency PTI, the centre has incurred a bill of nearly Rs 3 crore after having housed the 34 political leaders at the Centaur Hotel for more than 100 days. The administration has rejected the bill, insisting that government rates - Rs 800 per day as against the hotel's Rs 5,000 per day - will be paid because the hotel functioned as a sub jail.
Kashmir received snowfall earlier than usual this year, and the weather department has predicted a particularly cold winter. The harshest period of the season - termed as the Chillai Kalan - runs for 40 days from December 21 to January 31. The weather remains cold and dry during this time, with frequent bouts of snow and the minimum temperatures settling well below freezing point.
With input from PTI