Jammu leaders released from house arrest ahead of local polls

Almost two months after Centre scrapped Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and imposed a security lockdown in the Valley, the administration has ended the house arrest of all politicians in Jammu. However, their counterparts in the Kashmir Valley remain under detention or house arrest.

The Jammu leaders who were under house arrest have been released and restrictions around them have been removed, official sources said. The decision came after the government announced election for the Block Development Council, the second tier of the Panchayat Raj system in the state.

Among those released from house arrest in Jammu are Devender Singh Rana. Raman Bhalla, Harshdev Singh, Chaudhary Lal Singh, Vikar Rasool, Javed Rana, Surjit Singh Slathia and Sajjad Ahmed Kitchloo.

Nearly 400 political leaders, including former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah, were either detained or placed under house arrest.

The Kashmir Valley has been shut for the last 57 days with communication and internet blockade. The polling for over 300 Block Development Councils will be held on October 24 and counting will take place on the same day. Around 26,000 panchayat members are eligible to vote.

In the Jammu and Kashmir panchayat election last year, regional parties including the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) did not participate over the issue of special status.

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