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Jammu and Kashmir detainees slam police attempt to strip search Peoples Conference chief Sajjad Lone

On the move: Political detainees being shifted to the MLA hostel from the Centaur Hotel in Srinagar on Sunday.

On the move: Political detainees being shifted to the MLA hostel from the Centaur Hotel in Srinagar on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

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Political leaders objected to an attempt to strip search PC chief Sajjad Lone

At least 32 high profile political detainees staged a protest on Sunday against the police’s alleged bid to “strip and humiliate” Peoples Conference chief Sajjad Lone while the leaders were being shifted to a new detention centre in Srinagar.

The incident took place around 2 p.m. when the authorities began shifting the detainees in batches from the Centaur Hotel to the MLA Hostel in Srinagar.

Leader manhandled

Sources said the first batch of leaders, crammed into a small vehicle, comprised Peoples Democratic Party youth president Waheed Para, J&K’s Peoples Movement chief and IAS topper Shah Faesal and Peoples Conference chief Lone, an ally of the BJP in J&K between 2015 and 2018.

Sources said Mr. Lone was frisked as his vehicle reached the gates of the MLA Hostel. The situation turned ugly when he was asked to remove his clothes, eliciting an angry response from both Mr. Para and Mr. Faesal. This was followed by a scuffle, sources added.

The police allegedly used force to separate the politicians, who have served as lawmakers and Ministers in the previous regime. As other political detainees reached the detention centre, they all joined the protest against the “manhandling” of Mr. Lone.

The detainees also registered their protest against “poor facilities” at the MLA Hostel. Sources said the authorities have used plywood sheets to close the verandas and the windows, turning the rooms in the multi-storey building into dark and cold cells.

Police deny incident

However, when contacted by The Hindu, the police denied any such incident. “No such incident took place,” said a police officer on the condition of anonymity.

“The place is not liveable even for hardcore criminals. The authorities are trying to put regional leadership on par with criminals — it reeks of political vendetta. The place is simply unhygienic and lacks basic facilities. My ailing father’s health will only deteriorate in case such pathetic services are offered to him,” PDP leader and former Minister Naeem Akhtar’s daughter Sheryaar Khanam told The Hindu.

Ms. Khanam has decided to approach Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Shahid Chaudhary. “I will seek a written undertaking from Mr. Chaudhary that my father is in safe condition and the place is medically feasible. The minimum government could do is to provide a clean and warm place in this chilly weather,” she said.

Sources said the detainees have been asked to organise their own toiletries and provided with small electric blankets and room heaters. “This is an attempt to make an example of the local leaders. If they are not spared, nobody will be in Kashmir. They are being made scapegoats,” said Ms. Khanam.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter Iltija Mufti also criticised the government over the incident.

Ms. Mehbooba Mufti has also been shifted to a new detention centre in Srinagar, following complaints regarding the heating arrangements and power supply.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 8:21:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/jammu-and-kashmir-detainees-slam-police-action/article30000415.ece

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