Nearly after a month under arrest, former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have been allowed to meet relatives. The leaders were taken into custody as ‘precautionary measure’ amid tensions in Kashmir after New Delhi on August 5 announced abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and decided to bifurcate the state into Union territories - Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh - hours after Kashmir was placed under a total clampdown.
Lodged at Hari Niwas in Srinagar, Omar Abdullah's family met him twice this week, according to NDTV report. “His sister, Safia, and her children were allowed to meet the leader - who has grown a beard in the days following his arrest - for 20 minutes on Saturday,” NDTV quoted sources saying.
However, National Conference President Farooq Abdullah’s repeated requests to meet his son were denied, said reports.
Mehbooba Mufti's mother and sister were also allowed to meet her on Thursday at Chashme Shahi in Srinagar where she has been kept under arrest.
Besides, lawyers, businessmen, professors, members of the J&K Bar Association and civil societyhave also been.
Earlier, reports suggested that Centre reached out to Omar and Mehbooba to break the ice. “The political lockdown cannot continue forever. There has been some movement to sound out the two leaders for possible easing of restrictions on them. There is need to create space,” The Indian Express quoted a source as saying.
Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik last month defended communication blockade in the Valley saying there’s no harm in taking such steps if it saves lives. “In all the crises that have happened in Kashmir in the past, at least 50 people used to die in the first week itself. Our attitude is such that there should be no loss of human lives. Dus din telephone nahi honge, nahi honge, lekin hum bahut jaldi sab wapas kar denge (It’s okay if that means there is no telephone service for 10 days… but we will restore everything very soon),” Malik told reporters when asked to comment on how long the restrictions will continue.