SRINAGAR – Two senior National Conference (NC) leaders, who have been under preventive detention for the past 116 days following the abrogation of Article 370 provisions, were rushed to a government hospital here where they underwent angiography on Friday, the party said.
NC general secretary and former minister Ali Mohammed Sagar and former party MLA from Ganderbal constituency Ishfaq Ahmed, along with 32 other political detenues, were recently moved to the MLA Hostel from Centaur Hotel. Their families have alleged that the MLA Hostel lacked proper heating arrangements required in “harsh” winter conditions of Kashmir Valley.
The party’s Lok Sabha member from Anantnag constituency Hasnain Masoodi wrote to the principal secretary (home) of the newly created union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, stating that the two leaders had undergone angiography at the premier Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS).
Urging the administration to consider shifting the duo to their homes after discharge from the hospital, Masoodi, a retired high court judge, said they suffered from ailments of heart and needed constant medical care.
Officials confirmed that Sagar and Ahmed complained of chest pain and they were shifted to the hospital where they underwent cardiac tests.
The families of the detained political leaders said that during their incarceration at the hotel and subsequently at the MLA Hostel, the detenues were not allowed to go for walk and were confined largely to their rooms.
Expressing grave concern over the deteriorating health of several political leaders due to lack of facilities at the places they have been lodged under detention in these harsh and chilly weather conditions in the Valley, senior National Conference leaders issued a statement seeking detailed medical bulletin of all the detenues on a daily basis.
In a statement, National Conference leaders said, “It is inhumane and cruel to lodge the political prisoners at places san heating, medical and other facilities.”
They described continued detention of senior leaders as a cause of concern for all those believing in the idea of India and said that the current stalemate is against the high democratic values practised for decades and against the larger national interest.
“Nothing is as undemocratic as silencing the sane voice from Jammu and Kashmir in this session of Parliament,” they said, referring to the detention of Farooq Abdullah, a sitting MP.
“We urge the government to take urgent steps to normalise the situation and allow democratic activity to take place with the release of all mainstream political leaders detained since August 5, including three former chief ministers,” the statement added.
These former MLAs have been under detention since August 5 when the Centre announced abrogation of Article 370 and division of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories — Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.
Sagar, who represented the Khanyar assembly seat in downtown Srinagar and has served in important positions in the cabinet of Farooq Abdullah as well as that of his son Omar Abdullah, and Ahmed, who made his political debut in 2014, are among the 34 political detenues who were shifted to the MLA Hostel on November 17 from Centaur Hotel as it lacked proper heating arrangements.
The winter chill had taken a toll on the health of the detenues — National Conference, PDP and People’s Conference leaders and prominent social activists — and the security personnel guarding them, they said.
The administration had carried out the required modification of rooms at the MLA Hostel to accommodate the political prisoners. It has been declared as a subsidiary jail by an order of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir’s home department.
Relatives of the detained leaders have alleged that the makeshift subsidiary jail has inadequate heating arrangements.
The relatives of many prisoners had brought warm bedding for their detained kin lodged at the MLA Hostel.
“This is a defunct building which lacks basic facilities. There should be a hygienic place for these leaders. There are no heating arrangements, no proper lighting arrangements. We have to get these facilities ourselves rather than the government providing them,” Shehriyar Khanum, daughter of former minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Naeem Akhtar, had told reporters earlier.
Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti was recently shifted to a government accommodation in the city from a tourist hut located at the foothills of Zaberwan range. Former chief minister Omar Abdullah is detained at another government house, a kilometre from his home.
Farooq Abdullah, who has been the chief minister of the state three times, remained detained at his residence. On September 17, he was slapped with provisions of the stringent Public Safety Act.