Omar Abdullah sports ‘an unkempt beard’; family members find Mehbooba Mufti ‘agitated’

Incarceration leaves its mark on Kashmiri political leaders.

September 01, 2019 10:32 pm | Updated September 02, 2019 12:06 am IST - Srinagar

In confinement: At least 42 mainstream leaders have been detained since the August 5 decision to revoke J&K’s special status.

In confinement: At least 42 mainstream leaders have been detained since the August 5 decision to revoke J&K’s special status.

Former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has turned “agitated” and Omar Abdullah sports “an unkempt beard” with personal DVDs as the only source of entertainment under arrest Srinagar, according to family members who were allowed to meet them for the first time this week.

The J&K authorities have started following the jail manuals to allow relatives, lawyers and friends to meet all 45 detained leaders of the National Conference (NC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Peoples Conference (PC) and the J&K Peoples Movement.

At least 42 mainstream leaders have been detained inside the Centaur Hotel, located on the banks of the lake, since the August 5 decision to revoke J&K’s special status.

NC vice-president Omar Abdullah is being held inside Hari Niwas on Gupkar Road. It is the last palace built by the last Dogra Maharaja Hari Singh around 1947 and considered jinxed as the Maharaja failed to shift there and saw its decline thereafter.

Family sources said a request of Farooq Abdullah, NC president and MP, to meet the junior Abdullah was declined by the authorities earlier.

However, Mr. Abdullah’s sister Safiya Khan and her children met him on Saturday, the second time since Monday. “It took them a while to recognise Mr. Abdullah, who was sporting an untrimmed white beard,” the family sources said.

Mr. Abdullah is allowed to run for an hour in the morning and has access to his personal DVDs from the first week. However, he stays put inside all day and rarely comes out, official sources said.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti is inside a single-storey guest-house at Chasmashahi at the foot of the Zabarwan Hills. It was used to detain Hurriyat leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Geelani in the past.

Family sources said Ms. Mufti’s mother Gulshan Begum and younger sister Rubiya Sayeed, who was kidnapped by militants in 1990s, also met her for the first time on August 29. Sources said Ms. Mufti has grown “agitated and depressed”. Official sources said she refused to meet Additional Director-General of Police Muneer Khan and entered into an argument with a magistrate over a dysfunctional commode.

Meanwhile, NC leader Salman Sagar’s twin kids were allowed to see him on their birthday on August 29. PDP leader Naeem Akhtar’s wife and daughter also met him. Ailing Mr. Akhtar is being provided healthcare facilities, including regular check-ups.  ”They are given meals as per the jail manuals,” Mr. Akhtar’s family said.

The family members of PC chief Sajad Lone and J&KPM chief Shah Faesal also met them.

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