Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday, 22 February, said that he is praying for the early release of three former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir from their detention and hoping that they will contribute to normalising the situation in Kashmir.
Dozens of politicians, including three former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah of National Conference (NC), and Mehbooba Mufti of People's Democratic Party (PDP) – were placed under preventive detention soon after the Modi government reorganised and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir state into two Union territories on 5 August last year.
Though most of the politicians have been released since then, the three chief ministers and a dozen politicians remain detained. While Farooq Abdullah was booked under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) in September, Omar and Mehbooba were also recently detained under the same law. The government cited their provocative statements and threats issued before the nullification of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir state.
In an exclusive interview to IANS on Saturday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said:
“Kashmir has been peaceful. The situation is improving rapidly. Along with the improvement, these decisions (release of politicians from detention) will also be finalised. The government has not tortured anyone.”
Defending the government's decision, the defence minister said that certain steps had been taken in the interests of Kashmir. "Everybody should welcome it," he said.
Singh said he will pray for the early release of the Abdullahs and Mufti from their detention. "I also pray that once they are out, they work and contribute towards improvement of the situation in Kashmir," the Union Minister said.
Rajnath Singh drew accolades in Kashmir while he was the home minister in the previous government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for his uprightness and kindness.
(Published in an arrangement with IANS.)