As hotels, guest houses, private and government buildings were converted into makeshift jails in Kashmir, the Valley turned into a massive prison with as many as 400 politicians, aides and separatist leaders being put under arrest.
As per the government orders, hotels and guest houses like Centaur, Hari Niwas, Forest guest house, protocol building for government officials, and private building and quarters were made into subsidiary jails. Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were put in separate cottages in Hari Niwas.
Any leader worth his or her salt was arrested, barring Dr Farooq Abdullah and 91-year-old separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
Speaking to media on Tuesday, Dr Farooq Abdullah broke down in tears. The National Conference leader claimed that he was under house arrest even as the government denied it.
Farooq Abdullah, who is the Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar, spoke to media from behind his residence’s gate and said that he was barred from casting his vote against abrogation of Article 370 against his will.
Former J&K CM’s personal security officer Shafqat Khan, who was standing outside the house, said that Farooq Abdullah had been restricted in his Gupkar residence and even he could not get access.
“The move by the Modi government was completely unconstitutional,” Farooq Abdullah said.
An emotional Farooq Abdullah said, “I am ready to take a bullet for Article 370. I don’t know where my son is. The government has put me under house arrest.”
Home Minister Amit Shah told Lok Sabha that Farooq Abdullah was not put under house arrest. But, clearly, there were restrictions put on him after he stormed out of his residence to speak to media persons early morning on Tuesday.
Sources said Mehbooba Mufti braved the arrest, packing two-three sets of clothes to wear. Request by her two daughters to meet her was rejected as there was strict implementation of the arrest. Omar Abdullah, on the other hand, had tears welled up in his eyes. Sources said, “Omar Abdullah was taken aback by his arrest.”
The J&K Police DGP, Dilbagh Singh, said, “Political leaders were put under house arrest based on instructions from administration.”
Sources indicated that the politicians in custody are unlikely to be bailed out soon. The action was taken against leaders, who were seen as more likely to make inciting statement, which would be inimical to the peace of the state. Sources said the drastic step was taken to ensure that there was not an iota of protest.
A government official told India Today TV, “People will take time to soak in the step. But that is the need of the hour.”
Home Minister Amit Shah in Lok Sabha said, “We are not doing this for vote bank. This is done for the wellbeing of the country. We are doing this for the benefit of people of the Valley. We plan to infuse new hope in Jammu and Kashmir.”
As parliament debated, the security forces and administration stood guard, to ensure everything was in its proper place.