February 2004 News

Govt keeps its promise: 34 freed in J-K

1 February 2004
The Indian Express

SRINAGAR: As the first effective follow-up of the talks between the Centre and Hurriyat Conference on January 22, the Jammu and Kashmir government today revoked the detention orders of 34 detainees on the eve of Id- ul-Zuha. Official sources said the joint screening committee recommended release of the 34, mostly Kashmiri militants not involved in any heinous crime. The Indian Express was the first to report that the Centre was willing to release around 30 detainees on the eve of Id to meet one of the key demands of the Hurriyat and to show its detractors that the dialogue process was not empty talk. Highly placed sources said the Mufti Mohammed Sayeed government had recommended their release to the screening committee, which has members from the Intelligence Bureau and State CID. After the Hurriyat leadership raised the issue at the talks with Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani on January 22, instructions had been sent to the screening committee to expedite the process.A meeting of the joint screening committee on January 29 recommended revocation of the Public Safety Act against the 34. It also asked the Mufti government to submit further such cases for review, and sources said some of the second-rung Hurriyat leaders may be recommended for the next round. ‘‘We have released the former militants who were serving detention on various charges. None of them was involved in any serious crime,’’ an official spokesman said. Most of these 34 are local youths who had taken up guns. As of now, there are some 550 political detainees languishing in J-K jails.


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