31 Jul 2020
I'm under house arrest, says Saifuddin Soz, challenging government's claims
Written byShalini Ojha
From behind barbed wires at his home in Srinagar, senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz junked the government's claims about him not being detained, telling reporters that the Supreme Court was being fed lies.
Soz, a minister in UPA rule, is reportedly under house arrest since August 5, 2019, when the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was revoked by BJP-led Centre.
Why were politicians of J&K detained?
Before the abrogation of Article 370, that stripped J&K of its special status, BJP put mainstream and separatist leaders under detention.
It was argued that they might fan violence with provocative speeches and hinder Valley's peace.
Among those who were detained were three former Chief Ministers of J&K, Mehbooba Mufti, Farooq, and Omar Abdullah, and J&K People's Conference's Sajjad Lone.
This week, SC dismissed plea seeking Soz's release
In the last 12 months, the detention of politicians and the curbs levied in the Valley have led to numerous hearings in Supreme Court.
On Wednesday, a bench, led by Justice Arun Mishra, disposed of the petition of Soz's wife Mumtazunnisa Soz seeking his release after the J&K administration said neither was he detained nor was he under house arrest.
Kept inside residence, Soz spoke to journalists from boundary wall
A day later, few journalists reached his house for an interview, but reportedly weren't allowed inside. Soz came to his boundary wall, hoping to be "rescued," and told the journalists that he needs permission to move around.
"The government told the SC that I am a free person but the officials say that they have orders from higher-ups not to release me," Soz said.
Why being stopped if I'm not detained, questioned Soz
In another telephonic interview with Indian Express, Soz said SC was lied to.
"This (UT) government and the Central government took a position before that I am a free man. I'm not a free man," he said.
He added he tried moving out twice on Wednesday and Thursday but was stopped. "If I am not under detention, why am I being stopped?" he asked.
Soz felt it was "shameful" the press didn't grill government
The octogenarian promised to take the legal route and said the top court should investigate why lies were peddled inside the courtroom.
"It is also shameful that instead of grilling the government, a section of the press, whose interests are promoted by the Central government, said that my wife was lying," he asserted.
Soz also revealed there are no written orders for his detention.
He admitted he traveled to Delhi, but for medical reasons
To note, in SC the J&K administration said Soz traveled to Delhi three times, proving that he wasn't detained.
Calling them medical trips, Soz said, "I once accompanied my wife and twice I obtained permission (from the police) to consult a doctor (in Delhi). The dates are available, the prescriptions are available."
He said he took police's permission for another personal visit.
He visited sister after requisite permission from police
"Yes, I made a personal visit to my ailing sister, but that was after proper police permission. I have no official assignments and I haven't gone out for any political activity. In fact, there was no room for any political activity," the Congress leader added.
Administration didn't lie, Soz's movements restricted due to COVID-19: Police
As Soz's story rebuffed J&K administration's claims, police said the government was not lying and that the politician was kept under restrictions due to coronavirus pandemic.
"Mr. Soz is a Z-category protectee. We can't provide an escort to him outside his home because a large number of police personnel of the security wing have contracted the virus," a senior cop told NDTV.