Detained J&K Leaders Will be Freed in Less Than 18 Months: Union Minister Jitendra Singh

New Delhi: Political leaders detained in Jammu and Kashmir following the scrapping of special status will be released in less than 18 months, Union minister Jitendra Singh has said.

Speaking at an event in Jammu’s Katra, the Minister of State in PMO said he is constantly asked by reporters on when the detained leaders will be released. Singh said his reply has always been “less than 18 months”, a jibe at the Congress and other opposition parties on the duration of the 1975 Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi.

According to The Indian Express, Singh stuck to the timeframe when contacted over phone. “I said less than 18 months,” the report quoted the minister as saying.

At the event, Singh also repeated Union home minister Amit Shah’s statement that it won’t take 72 years to restore J&K’s statehood, another jibe at the Congress over the number of years it took to “solve” the Kashmir issue.

Singh’s statement comes amid sharp criticism from opposition parties over former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah’s detention under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA).

"It's obvious that the government is trying to remove nationalist leaders like Farooq Abdullahji to create a political vacuum in Jammu and Kashmir that will be filled by terrorists. Kashmir can then permanently be used as a political instrument to polarise the rest of India…The government should stop creating space for terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir and release all nationalist leaders ASAP,” Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had tweeted.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration had on Monday said that it has applied provisions under the stringent PSA for 15 days on National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah. According to the government officials in J&K, after Abdullah was slapped with PSA, his residence was declared a subsidiary jail late on Sunday night.

Besides Abdullah, former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and several other political leaders have been put under house arrest following the revocation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir on August 6.