Friday, March 28, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Release of militants put on hold
Tribune News Service

Jammu, March 27
The release of detained militants by the Mufti government has been put on hold by the Centre following a spurt in terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir.

The meeting of the Screening Committee (SC) scheduled here today had to be postponed indefinitely as the Centre’s representative, Mr A. Ahuja, Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry, did not come to participate to review cases of militants proposed to be released by the state government.

It is learnt that the state government had prepared a list of 100 terrorists for release following screening by the committee. The committee headed by the state Home Secretary has besides the Centre’s representatives, senior officers of the police and the CID on it.

Sources said that atmosphere at the moment was not congenial for holding the meeting of the committee and releasing the militants.

The Cabinet Committee on Security, which met earlier this week at the residence of Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, following the killing of 24 Kashmiri Pandits in the valley, took a serious view of the security situation in the state.

Also the release of militants was expected to be done only after Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, discussed thoroughly the security scenario with Governor, G.C. Saxena, Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed and senior military and intelligence officers, only there after the Centre was expected to give the light green signal to the Mufti for continuing his healing touch to the militants not involved in serious crimes.

The earlier release of 25 militants and separatist leaders by the state government has already created a controversy for the Mufti. Prominent among those released are the separatist leader, Ali Shah Geelani, Abdul Aziz Dar alias General Mousa and Ghulam Ahmed Bhat.

National Conference MLA, Ali Mohammad Sagar has accused the Mufti of trying to mislead people on the issue of his healing touch as many of the released persons were detained under the Forest Act.

As many as 476 persons are, at present, detained in different jails under the Public Safety Act and the Mufti government plans to get the case of every one of them reviewed by the Screening Committee.

However, the Mufti has made it clear that the state government has the right to a final decision to release the detainees in case of a dispute among the members of the Screening Committee.

The Screening Committee was set up when the Centre took a serious view of the release of eight detainees by the Mufti government soon after coming to power in November last.


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