April 2003 News

J&K Govt. silent on prisoners' release

12 April 2003
The Hindu
Our Staff Reporter

Jammu: The release of innocents from jails, the cornerstone of the 'healing touch' policy of the Mufti Mohammed Sayeed Government, has been put on the backburner again. A meeting on the contentious issue, scheduled for March 27 in Jammu, was not held due to the recent Nadimarg massacre. After the Raghunath Temple attack on November 24 last year, the BJP had accused the Congress, a partner in the coalition Government in Jammu and Kashmir, of releasing militants from jails. The Deputy Prime Minister, L. K. Advani, accused the State Government of not taking the Centre's permission before releasing the first batch of mostly political prisoners. A patch-up was made by including a Secretary in the Union Home Ministry, Rakesh Ooja, to the screening Committee which looks into the individual cases for release. The Finance Commissioner (Home), S. D. Singh, the DGP, A. K. Suri, and the ADGP (CID), Kuldeep Khuda, represented the State Government. On March 5, the joint screening committee met for two days. On the first day, a detailed criteria for the release of the prisoners was agreed upon. On the second day, it decided on a list of 17 prisoners. Most of the cases pertained to non-militancy related violence. The committee then resolved to meet on March 27 to decide on the next list. In the meantime, the Chief Minister asserted the sovereignty of his Government in the release of prisoners. Then the Nadimarg massacre occurred on March 24 and the meeting scheduled for March 27 was cancelled. Since then the authorities have maintained silence on the issue. When contacted a member of the screening committee said, 'please do not talk about it'.


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