Other States

Our guards had become our jailors: Salman Soz

Security personnel standing guard in Srinagar on Wednesday, the 16th day of restrictions.

Security personnel standing guard in Srinagar on Wednesday, the 16th day of restrictions.  

Senior Congress leader Salman Anees Soz, who was under house arrest for 10 days in Srinagar earlier this month, says that “if peaceful protests are allowed” in the Kashmir Valley, then the crowds will be “far bigger than the ones you see in Hong Kong”.

The Valley has been under lockdown since August 5 following the suspension of Article 370 and the bifurcation of the State into two Union Territories.

In an interview to The Hindu over WhatsApp from the U.S, Mr. Soz, who travelled to Srinagar after the Valley was locked down, said he and the members of his family, including his father and former Cabinet Minister Saifuddin Soz, were placed under house arrest without any written orders.


Refusing to divulge details of how he was able to leave the Valley, Mr. Soz tweeted on Monday: “I was allowed to accompany my wife and children out of Kashmir on August 15, out of India on August 17. In Kashmir, the Constitution seems helpless. Don’t blindly trust the government.”

Other members of his family, however, continue to be in detention.

‘Surreal move’

“It was surreal... But when my father, Prof. Saifuddin Soz, was informed by our security guards that he was not to move out of our home, it became clear that these arrests were widespread. I was informed about my house arrest a day later. The head of the guards at our home, from the J&K Police, said this [order] is direct from [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi. Our guards were now our jailors,” Mr. Soz recalled.

Mr. Soz said the family had access to Delhi-based news channels intermittently. “We watched news, much of which seemed implausible. The news was largely supplied by the government and it was impossible to verify what was going on,” he said. He added that he could not meet a single party worker and the number of leaders under detention couldn’t be confirmed.

Mr. Soz said the Centre’s decision was “disastrous at many levels”.

“Those who are celebrating as if Kashmir has been conquered and Kashmiris subjugated, should look up the definition of a Pyrrhic victory. The Constitution has been savagely attacked. ... Of course, in Kashmir, this move will likely lead to serious adverse consequences,” he said.

He said the Centre's move was likely to increase alienation in the Valley.

“While I personally hope that our young people do not resort to violence of any kind, we have to be realistic. Militant ranks may swell and this is not good for Kashmir because it impacts us adversely and squeezes space for direct action by peaceful means....the Modi government’s action to detain the entire political leadership of Kashmir and the unprecedented clampdown are suffocating opportunities to resist the government through peaceful means. If peaceful protests are allowed, I can guarantee that you will have crowds in Kashmir far bigger than the ones you see in Hong Kong,” Mr. Soz remarked.

He also said the Centre's narrative that the move will boost business opportunities in the State is disingenuous.

“I invite the Prime Minister to share with the country a table comparing basic development indicators of J&K with other states, including Gujarat....Did he deliver the highest unemployment rate in the last 45 years? Yes,” he quipped. He said the Prime Minister should also indicate when Article 371 of the Constitution that gives special status to other States, including those in the northeast, is to be abrogated.

“In several sub clauses of this Article, there are special provisions for many States, including restrictions on non-State subjects who may wish to buy property in those States. After all, one of the objectives of Mr. Modi was to create one India. Why only do justice and development for Kashmiris? I am sure our brothers and sisters in other States are eager to receive a bit of justice and development as well,” he said.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2020 1:32:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/our-guards-had-become-our-jailors-salman-soz/article29214662.ece

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