Union Minister of State in PMO, Dr Jitendra Singh on Sunday said that Opposition leaders kept under detention in Kashmir were "house guests" of the government as they were being provided with every facility demanded by them, including brown bread for breakfast and Hollywood movie tapes for entertainment.
"This is no house arrest which Amit Shah (Union Home Minister) has done. They are living in five star guest houses where even I may not get a place to stay when I go to Srinagar, he said, adding that such facilities are being provided to them which are not available to one even at home.
Reiterating that those detained will be released in less than 18 months, Singh, without naming anyone, said: "You wanted brown bread during breakfast as the other one carries fat, we started providing it. You wanted to watch Hollywood movies and we provided the cassettes. Then you wanted a gym to do exercise and we provided that as well."
"We provided you brown bread, cassettes of Hollywood movies and also a gym for exercise and even then you complain. You are not under house arrest, but you are house guest. Even a guest visiting one s house does not get such a treatment, Singh said at a public rally organized by members of the civil society on the eve of the birthday of Maharaja Hari Singh, the last Dogra ruler of Jammu and Kashmir who signed the Instrument of Accession merging his state with the Dominion of India in 1947.
Pointing out that he has not seen a kindhearted Home Minister like Amit Shah, Singh said that while the "people complain that he is very strict, I say that he had changed the meaning of house arrest".
"We have not put them in house arrest like the then Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah government detained Shyama Prasad Mukherji (BJP ideologue), who died after he was kept in two rooms without any medical facility for 44 days. While he died at 2.30 am, the news of his death was made public at 1 pm, he pointed out.
In an apparent reference to the friendship between former Prime Minister Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru and National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, the Union Minister said: "We did keep them in house arrest like Pt Nehru and detained his friend Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah 2,000 km away at Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu."
He said that the situation in Kashmir was normal and there are no restrictions there. "There had not been curfew even for a single day," he said, asking media persons "did anyone visiting there ask for the curfew pass".
Pointing out that there are some restrictions under Section 144 of CrPC in nearly a dozen police stations of the 298 to check mischief by anti-national elements, Singh said that "whether there is Article 370 or not, Modi (PM Narendra Modi) government will not allow anybody to do mischief".
"Anybody indulging in sedition will be punished whether there are restrictions or not, he said.
Without naming Dr Karan Singh, senior Congress leader and former Sadar-i-Riyast of Jammu and Kashmir, Singh also had a dig at him saying that those who could not give respect to former ruler of the state Maharaja Hari Singh are demanding that his birthday be declared as a public holiday.