Two months after political leaders were detained in India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the administration granted permission to a delegation from the National Conference party to meet their top two leaders on Sunday, according to a party official.
The meeting with party President Farooq Abdullah and Vice President Omar Abdullah took place in Srinagar. Both were detained after the Indian government scrapped occupied Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5.
According to Hindustan Times, the delegation flew in early Sunday morning for the meeting. It was led by provincial head Devender Singh Rana and included former party legislators.
National Conference spokesperson Madan Mantoo had told Press Trust of India (PTI) a day earlier that the Indian government granted permission after provincial head Devender Singh Rana made a request to Satya Pal Malik, occupied Jammu and Kashmir’s governor.
“If the political process has to start then mainstream leaders have to be released,” said Rana after meeting the leaders today, adding, “they are both well and in high spirits, of course they are pained by the developments in the state, particularly about the lockdown.”
Farooq Abdullah is under house detention at his residence in Srinagar, while his son Omar is held at a state guest house.
The Hindustan Times further quoted NC spokesperson Madan Mantoo as saying on Saturday that the decision to hold the meeting was taken during an emergency gathering of senior officials in the Jammu region on Wednesday, "soon after restrictions on the movement of Jammu-based National Conference leaders were lifted".
Mantoo also said that the party "was anguished over the continued detention of senior leaders as also the other top leaders of the mainstream political parties".
Hundreds of people including political leaders from Kashmir have been put under detention following the scrapping of the state’s special status.
In addition to Farooq and Abdullah, former Chief Minister and People's Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti is another prominent leader put in detention by the occupied Jammu and Kashmir administration.
The occupied territory has been under a near-complete lockdown since the Indian government’s revocation of its special status.
Since then, the Indian government has blocked communication access and imposed restrictions on movement to thwart any protests in the region.
Take a look: 60 days on, occupied Kashmir remains under siege
Rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have repeatedly called on India to lift restrictions and release political detainees.
India said that 93 per cent of the restrictions have been eased in the conflict-ridden region, a claim that Anadolu Agency could not independently verify.
A disputed region
From 1954 until this August 5, occupied Jammu and Kashmir had special provisions under which it enacted its own laws. The provisions also barred outsiders from settling in or owning land in the territory.
Some Kashmiri groups in the occupied territory have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighbouring Pakistan.
According to several human rights groups, thousands of people have been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.