In Congress video, youth question govt's J&K move; party leaders slam detentions

In Congress video, youth question govt's J&K move; party leaders slam detentions

A day after Jammu and Kashmir Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir was placed under house arrest in Jammu, and the party’s chief spokesperson was detained for nearly three hours, Congress put out a video clip that showed several individuals, including apparent college students, questioning the continuing lockdown in J&K and expressing sympathy and support for the state’s people.

The video was posted on the official Twitter handle of the Congress. The main opposition party has been critical of the government for the security lockdown and communications blackout, and the detention of political leaders such as Omar Abdullah and Mehbooda Mufti.

The arrest of Mir and detention of spokesperson Ravindra Sharma had stunned the Congress, especially since Sharma was taken away from the party headquarters in Jammu when he was about to address a press conference.

The three-minute video clip said, “Since the government has silenced the people of Jammu & Kashmir, we asked Indians what message they would have for the government and for the people of J&K; this is what they had to say”.

In the video, young people refer to the people of Kashmir as “our brothers and sisters”, and call for peace in the state. Many ask for the clampdown to be lifted and communication links restored, so that Kashmiris living elsewhere in the country are able to contact relatives in the state. Some say the government should take the people of Kashmir into confidence and allow their views to be heard.

“Our social media team sent people to three-four areas — North and South campuses of Delhi University, Connaught Place, and JNU — who randomly asked people about what they thought was happening in J&K,” AICC secretary in charge of communication Pranav Jha said.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram called the arrest of Mir “outrageously illegal”. “There was no written order of detention. Outrageously illegal. The State has no right to deprive a citizen of his liberty for even one moment without authority of law. That is Article 21 of the Constitution,” he tweeted.

Congress leader Manish Tewari tweeted, “When was the last time you heard or saw that the Chief Spokesperson of the State unit of a National Party being illegally abducted by the Police from the party office without cause or a warrant. This outrageous insult to Article 19 & 21 is a harbinger of the darkness ahead.”

Party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted, “Is it a crime to speak to the media? It’s now 15 days since ex CMs who respected and abided by the Constitution of India just like our leaders, have been under arrest.”