JAMMU: Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has again claimed to be under house arrest. Yet again the UT administration is silent whether she has been placed under house arrest or not. This silence is serving the purpose of the self-seeking politicians to send a message in Kashmir that they were being pulled up for being pro-Kashmiris and anti-forces, if not anti-national. At the expense of the government’s mishandling they become heroes.Hopefully the administration must be well versed that House Arrest was not mandated by any ordinary law in India. House arrest, heretofore the Supreme Court judgment in Navlakha case, was permitted only under the Preventive Detention Acts enacted by the Parliament and State Legislatures. For example, someone on house arrest may be allowed to go to work, attend school, go to medical appointments, attend court appearances, and participate in meetings with their lawyer.
Assuming that the claims of Mehbooba Mufti were genuine, shouldn’t the government enforce the restrictions rather than allowing her to create a scene by provoking the people for protests. The house arrest cannot be a license to vitiate the law and order situation. If a person gives two hoots to norms, he or she should be formally arrested and charged for the offenses for judicial dispensation. But it is not so in the instant case. Since September 7 this year, Mehbooba Mufti has at least been under ‘house-arrest’ five times. This is not what the government ever said but it is what she has been claiming.Mehbooba Mufti has ‘boasted’ about her house arrest on September 7, September 29, November 1, November 16 and just a few hours ago. People are wondering if she had been placed under house arrest less than 24 hours ago, how come she was again ‘caged inside the house’ six hours ago. And what sort of house arrests are these where the person involved makes statements, gives bytes to the media and speaks without any restrictions.By maintaining stoic silence over the claims, the law enforcement agencies are giving leverage to Mehbooba Mufti on a platter. She is obviously playing to the galleries to garner sympathy. For becoming relevant in Kashmir politics, India bashing and victimhood cards are two key ingredients which have worked well for the dubious characters in the past over three decades. Instead of ignoring the ‘non-entities’ the administration is making them ‘heroes’.Protests are part of democracy and this right is rather being liberally exercised by anti-administration elements in the Valley-separatists and soft-separatists in the so-called mainstream camp. It is not too much to expect from the administration to understand the ploys and ‘gimmickry’ of politicians in the Union Territory, especially those across the Jawahar Tunnel. If the law-enforcing agencies had substantial inputs about breach in law and order in case the former Chief Minister had gone ahead with her protest march, they should have proceeded against her legally. Legality of such an action would have been established in the appropriate judicial process. In democracy, the voice of the people cannot be muzzled as long as their expression remains confined within constitutional frame-work.The house arrests have lost their meaning in the Valley. It should be termed as rest to put the unrest to rest. It is a cozy reprimand for the mischief mongers and easy duty for those guarding outside their palatial houses. The restriction is not like the one put to a Kashmir-based US citizen Ghulam Nabi Fai in Washington DC some years ago, when an electronic monitoring device was fixed to him to watch his movements.House arrest in Kashmir is to give the person involved some movements of rest from their hectic schedule of indulging in India and forces’ bashing. They can move around; draw strategies; talk to like- minded people or speak to the media.In the instant case of Mehbooba Mufti, the UT administration must come out clean on what she has been claiming about her ‘liberty’ and ‘restrictions on movement’. Such claims are generally aimed at becoming heroes and relevant to the people, who have already rejected the mainstream politicians for their doublespeak. Unless any strategy is behind the ‘stoic silence’ over house arrests, the government must deny the luxury of becoming heroes to the so-called mainstream leaders of the Valley, who tend to be on both sides of the fence. Their duplicity has cost the nation heavily. They play mind games. Once in power they say something and something different when they are out of the government. The long rope being given to these discredited leaders by the Centre has emboldened them so much that they carry out their ‘motivated agenda’ brazenly once getting rehabilitated in the power corridors. Time has come to call their bluff, especially at a time the situation is being vitiated in the Valley post Hyderpora encounter. The dormant political class is trying to capitalize on the situation by making claims of ‘house arrests’.
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