Some others were also taken out of Srinagar and brought back in a similar fashion, the sources said.
Srinagar: Key leaders of Jammu and Kashmir’s mainstream political parties who were detained by the police and subsequently shifted to makeshift jails before or soon after Parliament approved a resolution abrogating J&K’s special status under Article 370 and a bill to split it into two Union territories, on August 5, were flown to Delhi in special aircraft separately on different days over past fortnight.
After brief stays in the national capital, they were quietly brought back here in small aircraft and kept again at a government guesthouse on the foothills of Srinagar’s Zabarwan or at the nearby Sher-i-Kashmir Convention Centre and the adjacent Centaur Lakeview Hotel.
Reliable sources said Peoples’ Conference leaders and former ministers in the PDP-BJP government Sajad Gani Lone and Imran Raza Ansari who were taken to Delhi first, days after their detention. A few days later came the turn of former CMs Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. They flew together out of Srinagar in a six-seater aircraft. Some others were also taken out of Srinagar and brought back in a similar fashion, the sources said.
A witness said Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were apparently in a “lively mood” while in conversation as they arrived at the airport and boarded the plane. “But both appeared sad when they returned the next day,” he said.
There is no official word on why they were flown out of Srinagar and at whose behest. However, it is learnt they were called to Delhi for discussions on the post-August 5 situation in J&K and related issues.
Sources said PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah are likely to be flown to Delhi again on Wednesday.
Over 600 mainstream and separatist leaders and activists, office-bearers of various trade outfits and members of civil society groups, besides some prominent lawyers and academics, have been placed under house arrest or detained in makeshift jails across the state over the past fortnight. Many have been formally booked under the state’s stringent Public Safety Act. Dozens were shifted to jails outside the state, including Agra. Hundreds were accused by the police of being “habitual or potential troublemakers”, and were taken into preventive custody or formally arrested.
The chief Muslim cleric and leader of his faction of the Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was also whisked away by the police from his house in Srinagar’s Nigeen area in August’s first week. He was, however, released the next day and is under house arrest since. Syed Ali Shah Geelani and some other key faces of the separatist camp too remain under house arrest.