Kashmiri Separatists Freed After Mehbooba Called Father

20 August 2015
The Indian Express
Mir Ehsan , Muzamil Jaleel

Srinagar: Shortly after the detention of separatist leaders in Srinagar, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti picked up her phone and called her father, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. He was at the Kaman post on the Line of Control in Uri sector to inaugurate additions to the trade facilitation centre and a bridge at Jabla on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road. With him were DGP K Rajendra Kumar and J&K police intelligence chief Abdul Gani Mir. Sources said that the Chief Minister, after speaking to his daughter, instructed that the separatist leaders be freed. The PDP, on its part, was quick to call the flip-flop a 'misunderstanding'. PDP chief spokesperson Mehboob Beg told The Indian Express: 'Our government is very clear, Mufti Sahib is very clear. He wants to facilitate talks. He has been saying all along that he has to take forward the process he started in 2002. It could be that some police officer did it in his enthusiasm. There was some misunderstanding. Mufti Sahib sent a categorical message in his Independence Day speech.' Asked whether the separatists had been released after Sayeed stepped in, Beg said: 'Of course, he said 'nothing doing'.' PDP leader Mohammad Ashraf Mir, who is also Minister of State for Power and Industries, too said there was 'some misunderstanding'. 'It was resolved once the Chief Minister learnt of it. The PDP has always said things will get resolved only through inclusive talks,' he said. While the PDP maintained the detentions were a 'misunderstanding', sources said there was worry within the leadership that it could have an adverse political fallout for the party in Kashmir where it is already being seen as conceding ground to coalition partner BJP on important matters. Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Nirmal Singh was clearly not on the same page. He said the separatist leaders had no role in the talks. 'Talks are being held between the NSAs of the two countries and ultimately all problems will get resolved on the table,' he said. For the PDP, the timing of the detentions was all wrong. The promise that an alliance with the BJP will get Kashmir a generous package, especially for the rehabilitation of the 2014 flood-affected, hasn't materialised - public support for the party has taken a beating and the party is trying hard to re-organise its cadres on the ground. Sayeed's visit to the Kaman post on the LoC was also meant to underline his politics of reconciliation between India and Pakistan. Daughter Mehbooba Mufti too ended her political hibernation - she retreated after the PDP formed an alliance government with the BJP - to return and take the lead in party affairs. After the detentions Thursday, arch rival and former chief minister Omar Abdullah lost no time in criticising Sayeed. He took to Twitter: 'Shame on Mufti Syed for arresting on demand. He had no business following his masters orders & detaining the Hurriyat leaders like this If the centre was so keen to prevent the Hurriyat leaders from meeting Sartaj Aziz they should've been told to detain them themselves I've never seen an Indo-Pak dialogue where both sides are so keen to sabotage it. India & Pak competing to give reasons to call off talks.' J&K Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir said: 'They (the government) have no roadmap for Kashmir and this is a new type of politics they have started playing. Mufti used to say he is a strong Chief Minister. Today, he has proved where he takes his orders from.' After his release, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq said nobody can deny that Kashmir is an issue and Kashmiris are party to it. 'We are not going to Delhi with any ill-intention. We want to strength the process of dialogue.' He said people of Kashmir will be more than happy to see India and Pakistan talk. 'I fail to understand why there is this approach that the Hurriyat should be stopped from visiting Delhi (for the meeting with Sartaj Aziz). Today or tomorrow, both countries have to address this issue.' Hurriyat (G) spokesman Ayaz Akbar said the detentions had 'confused' even the separatist leaders. He said all leaders except Geelani had been released. 'We are hopeful that he will also be released and allowed to travel to New Delhi.' In a series of tweets, Omar launched an attack on Mufti, saying that he is following the orders of his 'masters.'