Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who has been under detention since August, will be shifted to a bungalow near his official residence in Srinagar this week, sources told NDTV. He will continue to remain under detention though the details are being worked out. The move, coming just 24 hours after broadband services were restored in valley, is seen as another step by the Jammu and Kashmir administration to show that normalcy is returning to the Kashmir valley.
The 49-year-old was placed under detention on August 5 along with two other former Chief Ministers — his father Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti – on August 5, the eve of the government’s move to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir granted under Article 370 of the Constitution and its bifurcation into two union territories.
Sources said the move came after the government factored in several issues- including a scheduled visit of US President Donald Trump to India in February.
While the US, among other nations, have backed India’s position that the move in Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter, concerns have been expressed about the detentions of political leaders and the internet blackout. The US had expressed these concerns again last week.
“It is a step in right direction and all indications are that government is now keen to work out a middle ground with these detained leaders,” a senior government official told NDTV. According to him, if all goes well, all three former chief ministers may be released soon.
For the last five months, Mr Abdullah had been staying at Hari Niwas, a state guesthouse. His father, 82-year-old Farooq Abdullah has been under detention at his home.
Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is also under detention, will remain at the guest house in Transport Lane for now. She was shifted to the accommodation after temperatures in valley dropped below zero in what is known as the period of intense cold, the Chilai Kalan, in the Valley.
As part of a mega outreach programme to break the deadlock between citizens and the centre, 36 ministers would travel to the Kashmir Valley to spread awareness about the policy decisions of the Narendra Modi government for the new Union Territory.
The Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy would visit Ganderbal on January 22 and Manigam on January 23. Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will travel to Sopore in Baramulla district on January 24. Minister for Child Development Smriti Irani would visit Latra and Panthal areas of Reasi district on January 19. General VK Singh is scheduled to visit Tikri in Udhampur in January 20.
“Now that ministers are visiting the Valley one by one, the government needs the Hari Niwas Palace for accommodation and that’s why Omar Abdullah is being shifted,” a senior official said.