Kashmir detentions: DMK, other Opposition parties protest at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary D Raja, SP leader Ramgopal Yadav, Loktantrik Janata Dal’s Sharad Yadav were among those who attended the protest. (Express photo: Tashi Tobgyal)

On the call of the DMK, several Opposition parties, including the Congress, Trinamool Congress, RJD and the CPM, have come together for an all-party protest at Jantar Mantar on Thursday to demand the release of political leaders under detention in Kashmir.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary D Raja, SP leader Ramgopal Yadav, Loktantrik Janata Dal’s Sharad Yadav, RJD’s Manoj Jha and TMC’s Dinesh Trivedi are among those present at the protest.

Congress leader P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram also joined the protest. Earlier in the day, he had denied any kind of association with Indrani or Peter Mukerjea and said that he never met the promoters of INX Media and that whatever was happening was political vendetta. P Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI on Wednesday night in connection with a money laundering case related to INX Media.

Karti Chidambaram addressed media at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

The leaders raised slogans demanding the restoration of normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir, resumption of telecom services in the Valley and the immediate release of all political leaders who have been detained, PTI reported. Besides three former chief ministers and an IAS topper, the list of those detained in Kashmir includes a former Union minister, seven former state ministers, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Srinagar, and a number of legislators. Those detained also include lawyers, businessmen, professors, members of the J&K Bar Association and civil society. The state has remained under an unprecedented communications blackout since August 5.

In a resolution passed during the protest, the opposition parties said as a consequence of abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution without holding consultations with the people of the state or their representatives, an undeclared state of Emergency had come to force in the Valley.

"We stand by the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their difficult hour. The decisions taken by the Union government to impose a complete communication blackout and the continued detention of former chief ministers and political leaders…members of civil society and even innocent citizens running into thousands are matters of serious concern.

"There has been a chilling crackdown on free speech and the right of assembly. Such actions go against the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India and need to be immediately reversed. We demand immediate release of all public representatives of mainstream political parties and innocent citizens," the resolution further said.

Even though the opposition has been pided on Article 370, the DMK had been rallying for support and party chief M K Stalin had sent senior leader T R Baalu to reach out to like-minded Opposition parties for the protest. While the Congress, DMK and Left parties had opposed the revocation of special status and bifurcation of J&K in Parliament, parties like the Trinamool Congress and NCP did not vote against it. Some like the AAP sided with the government.