The Valley of Kashmir has been under the lockdown for more than 50 days with restricted communication and internet.
Two months after Article 370 was scrapped, Jammu leaders have been finally released from their house arrest and restrictions imposed on them have been completely removed. The move comes after the election for the Block Development Council was announced by the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Election Officer days ago. The council happens to be the second tier of the Panchayat Raj system in the state. Polls in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh are scheduled for October 24 and the counting of votes will be held on the same day post 3 PM.
As per media reports, the move to free almost all the political detainees was taken as Jammu has remained peaceful following the abrogation of Article 370 that gave special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Those released from house arrest in Jammu region include Devender Singh Rana, Javed Rana, Harshdev Singh, Raman Bhalla, Vikar Rasool, Chaudhary Lal Singh, Sajjad Ahmed Kitchloo and Surjit Singh Slathia.
However, the same has not been extended to the leaders in Kashmir who continue to be under house arrest or detention even as security measures continue to be in place. The Valley of Kashmir has been under the lockdown for the last 57 days with restricted communication and internet.
About 400 leaders which included former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah, were placed under house arrest or detained as part of the government’s security clampdown after it ended the special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and divided the restive state into two union territories.
Octogenarian Farooq Abdullah has been under house arrest in Srinagar and booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA), which enables detention without trial for three to six months.
Jammu Panchayat elections
The voting in Jammu will be done for more than 300 Block Development Councils on October 24 with the counting to be done on the same day itself. There are about 26,000 panchayat members who are eligible to exercise their franchise in the Jammu polls.
In the Jammu and Kashmir panchayat election in 2018, both National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chose not to participate in the elections over the special status issue. The election saw a large scale boycotted in Kashmir with more than 12,000 panchayat seats still lying vacant.