The first official meeting of the Mehbooba Mufti-led People’s Democratic Party (PDP) since the scrapping of Article 370 was stopped by the administration on Thursday (September 3).
Hours before the scheduled meeting, the police informed senior PDP leaders that they were not allowed to move out of their houses. “We have not been allowed to meet. The (party) leaders weren’t allowed to move out of their houses. We have cancelled the meeting,” said Ghulam Nabi Lone, PDP’s General Secretary.
PDP leaders released videos showing policemen not allowing them to leave their homes. In a video, the cops can be heard saying they “don’t have the permission” to let the leaders move out of their houses.
“Why are we, the only party, not allowed to meet? Why are our leaders under house detention? Why PSA is extended only against our leader Mehbooba ji?” asked Lone. “It seems the government is afraid of us,” Lone tweeted.
Even though the meeting was planned indoors, the party had written to Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, IGP Security, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, SSP Srinagar and SSP security informing them about it. However, party leaders said there was no response.
“Since only the senior leaders are participating, it won’t be a huge gathering and we would ensure that the measures and protocols with regard to COVID-19 are adhered to,” PDP had written in its letter on September 1.
“We didn’t need permission for the meeting but we wanted to be on the safer side and took all precaution,” party youth president Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra said.
While the political activities of the BJP and the Centre-backed Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party were not hindered by the government after the abrogation of the special status, several meetings of National Conference, including that of its Political Affairs Committee (PAC), were not allowed in the last two weeks.
Almost all senior PDP leaders, including Mehbooba Mufti, were detained by the government coinciding with the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, with legislature, and Ladakh, without legislature, in August last year.
Party officials said many important issues, including Mufti and other leaders’ house arrests, would have come up for discussion at Thursday’s meeting. Mehbooba Mufti is the only prominent mainstream leader, who is still booked under the Public Safety Act.