News Update

11 mobile phones recovered from political prisoners in Srinagar

At least 11 mobile phones were recovered from the political prisoners detained in old block of MLA hostel which has been turned into a sub-jail in Srinagar.

Over two dozen political leaders, including former ministers and MLAs who were detained hours before abrogating special status of J&K on August 5, were shifted from a hotel to MLA hostel in Srinagar on Sunday.

The authorities have ordered an inquiry into how the mobile phones were taken inside the heavily guarded MLA hostel, official sources said.

They said during a surprise checking of rooms where the political prisoners are lodged on Saturday, eleven mobile phones were recovered. However, some senior politicians detained in the sub jail resisted and did not allow search of their rooms.

The administration has turned 35 rooms of old block MLA hostel into sub jail. Five rooms are for security personnel of the jail.

In the past also mobile phones and other gadgets were recovered during surprise checking in Baramulla, Kathua and Srinagar jails from the detenues.

Over 31 leaders from different political parties, including National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peoples Conference, were detained and kept at Centaur Hotel since Centre scrapped Article 370 and Article 35 A, besides dividing the state into two Union Territories — J&K and Ladakh. However, they were recently shifted to MLA hostel after attracting criticism over the Rs 2.65 crore bill incurred to keep the ‘prisoners’ in the Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC)-owned Centaur Hotel since August 5.

The leaders, who remained under detained since August 5, included senior NC leader Ali Mohammad Sagar, senior PDP leader and spokesperson in previous PDP-BJP government Naeem Akhtar, People’s Conference chairman Sajad Lone and IAS officer-turned politician Shah Faesal.

However, the family members of detenues, including former minister in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition government Naeem Akhtar alleged that the sub jail lacks even basic facilities, including heating arrangement.
As per jail manual family members of detenues are allowed to meet their relatives only on Wednesday.

Three former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti also remained detained from last three months. Dr Abdullah has been detained at his Gupkar residence while Mr Omar remained lodged in government guest house in Srinagar.

However, Ms Mehbooba was shifted from a tourist hut located at the foothills of Zaberwan range to a government accommodation in Srinagar city. The former chief minister was shifted in view of the onset of winter and frequent power cuts, making it difficult to stay in the hut. Initially, Ms Mehbooba was kept with Mr Omar at Hari Nivas, but was later shifted to Chesma Shahi and lodged in a tourist hut.

Dr Farooq remained lodged in his residence in Gupkar, which was converted into a sub-jail. After Dr Farooq’s detention was challenged in the Supreme Court (SC), he was booked under Public Safety Act (PSA).