The All Parties Hurriyat Conference on Friday said that the Jammu and Kashmir administration “has gone back on its decision” to release the pro-independence conglomerate’s Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq from house detention.
Reports quoting unnamed government officials this week had said that Kashmir’s chief cleric was “free to go anywhere” after being kept in detention in his Nigeen residence since August 4, 2019.
The APHC in a statement expressed “regret that after announcing the release of Mirwaiz from 20-month long house detention, authorities went back on their decision”.
The conglomerate, which had welcomed the recent border truce between the armies of India and Pakistan, said: “late Thursday night police officials visited the Mirwaiz’s residence to convey to him that he continues to be under house arrest.”
The Mirwaiz, who is Kashmir’s chief cleric, was reported to address the Friday congregation at the region’s largest mosque after 82 weeks.
“He was told that he will not be allowed to go to Jamia Masjid for Friday prayers. And since early morning on Friday additional forces have been deployed outside his house and in the area converting it into a garrison,” the APHC said, adding the amalgam “strongly condemns this authoritarian flip flop of the government”.
The APHC said that recently in the Indian parliament, India’s Minister of State for Home Affairs G Krishna Reddy had categorically stated that no one in Jammu & Kashmir is under house arrest. “If that is so why does the Mirwaiz continue to be detained?” the pro-freedom amalgam asked.
APHC said that this imperious decision has hurt the sentiments of people and further aggrieved them, as they were eagerly awaiting the Mirwaiz’s release from arbitrary house arrest. “People though hugely disappointing should not lose hope and show patience and at no cost resort to any form of violent protest,” the amalgam said.
The source-based reports had said that Mirwaiz has been released from house detention but the APHC sources had said mobile police vehicles continue to remain deployed outside the main entrance gate of his residence in Srinagar.
Mirwaiz, along with several other resistance and pro-autonomy leaders, was put under house detention a day before India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and sliced the erstwhile state into two centrally ruled territories on August 5, 2019.
Mirwaiz’s reported release had assumed significance given the fact that India and Pakistan recently agreed to honour the ceasefire pact as guns have fallen silent on the LoC across J&K. Political analysts had opined that India and Pakistan may further move ahead and take some concrete confidence-building measures (CBMs) in the months to come. “There is every likelihood that the fresh CBMs may include the release of more political leaders who are serving detention but not those facing serious charges,” a report had said.
On Wednesday, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti in a tweet had welcomed Mirwaiz’s release and hoped that hundreds of Kashmiri men languishing in jails in and outside J&K will also be released soon. “It’s time they returned home to their families,” she had said. Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah too had welcomed the reported release of Mirwaiz.