Even as internet services across all platforms continued to be suspended in Kashmir for the 103rd day on Friday, the Union Home Ministry officials told MPs of both the Houses of Parliament that the situation in the Union Territory is getting normal and detained political leaders would be released gradually. However, the officials didn’t give any timeline for the rest of the leaders.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and his team of officials were quizzed by MPs at a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, headed by Congress leader Anand Sharma. They asked officials about the prevailing situation in Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and the steps taken to bring back normalcy there.
This was for the first time that the meeting of the committee was held since August 5, when the central government abrogated Article 370 – which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir - and divided it into two Union Territories.
The home secretary conveyed to the MPs that the situation in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir is getting normal, schools have been opened, while apple trading is going on, sources said.
Asked specifically about the release of detained political leaders, Bhalla and his team of officers said they are being released gradually but no timeframe about when the rest will be freed could be given, sources said.
The home ministry officials also told the parliamentarians that those who were detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA) can challenge their detention in a designated tribunal and if not satisfied with its order, they can move the high court.
Those detained under the PSA include former chief minister Farooq Abdullah. EX- chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti are also under detention since August 5.
The MPs also raised questioned on the curb on Internet services in the Kashmir Valley to the officials told them that the restriction has been imposed as Internet has been used to carry out subversive activities by terrorists and spreading rumours by anti-social elements.
The parliamentarians were told that since 1990, a total of 71,254 terror violence took place in Jammu and Kashmir in which 14,049 civilians, 5,293 security personnel and 22,552 terrorists were killed.