Friday, November 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

50 ultras rearrested
J & K bows under Centre’s pressure
M. L. Kak
Tribune News Service

Jammu, November 28
Nearly 50 militants and separatists, whose term in jail had ended or were released on bail, have been re-arrested on different charges indicating that the state government has come under pressure from the Centre to follow hard policy against the rebels.

Some of these militants, detained under the Public Safety Act, providing for detention for two years without trial, had spent more than seven to nine years in the prison. Their detention has become “illegal”, according to the legal experts.

The experts said after spending such a long time in jail they “are due for release even without the intervention of the courts.”

Those re-arrested have been lodged in Joint Interrogation Centres (JIC) in Srinagar and Jammu, most of them in the Kot Bhalwal Centre in Jammu.

A senior police officer said the police had plans of re-arresting Showkat Bakshi, a senior JKLF leader, released on bail after he spent 12 years in jail but he was surrounded by a battery of lawyers and supporters preventing the police from picking up the rebel again for detaining him in the JIC.

Senior state government functionaries refused to comment on the re-arrest of the militants released on bail by the court. To a question they said, “We do not know anything about it and we are oblivious of the source from which the orders of their re-arrest flowed.”

However, PDP circles said Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, had come under “unnecessary pressure” from Delhi for giving up his liberal policy. They said that late G.M. Sadiq, a former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, had adopted the liberal policy towards Sheikh Abdullah and his colleagues in the erstwhile Plebiscite Front which paid dividends making the Sheikh agree for an accord with Indira Gandhi in 1975.

A senior PDP leader said Mr Sadiq had succeeded in his mission due to support of the then central government. He said the Mufti had also initiated a process which, over a period of time could win over the people in the state. To him the suicide attacks on two Jammu temples were unfortunate but these should not have caused “consternation and panic” among the central leaders who have criticised the “soft face” of the Mufti.

Another senior police officer said release in phases of the militants who had completed term in jail or against whom there were no serious charges under the process of screening and nearly 50 such rebels had been identified who deserved to be freed. This had salutary impact on the psyche of the people and it is hoped that before Id-ul-Fitr there would be reunion between the boys and their parents.

These hopes received setback for the time being till the Chief Minister, at his meeting with the Prime Minister and other central leaders in Delhi next week, convinces them that there was nothing wrong in the policy he had decided to pursue.

The Mufti, according to sources close to him is determined on a “healing touch” to the people provided many more hurdles were not created in his path. The problem with the Mufti is not only to avoid confrontation with the Centre but he is also to keep the coalition partners, especially the Congress, in good humour. This way he seems to be walking on a razor’s thin edge.

The sources said the Chief Minister had conveyed to Delhi that he should be allowed to conduct his experiment on winning over the people making the central leaders convinced that the suicide attacks on the temple in Jammu were not the result of his soft approach towards the militants and the separatists but a security lapse.

What worries the PDP leadership is whether the Centre would allow the Chief Minister to follow the pattern he had framed for the coalition government or continue to interfere, making it difficult for the government to fulfil the commitment made to the people. The PDP circles cite several decisions taken by a coalition government in support of its stand that these steps were people-friendly exercise needed to force militants, especially foreign mercenaries, to lose public support, in whatever form it is available to them.


Cong for screening panel

New Delhi, November 28
Amidst a row over release of some separatists in Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress, a key ally in the state government, today said it favoured a screening committee to decide on the release of militants in future but insisted that the exercise was not necessary for freeing political leaders. State Congress president Ghulam Nabi Azad while finding nothing wrong in the release of six separatists “who are not active militants”, said “We favour that in the future, the state government should free militants only after clearance by a screening committee so that the BJP does not have a chance to level allegations.” PTI

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