Kashmir is an "open air prison" where no one has the right to express their opinion, Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti said on Friday after the authorities barred her from holding a press conference at her residence here where she claimed she was placed under house arrest.
The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said she was not allowed to visit the Pulwama residence of party leader Waheed Parra who was arrested by the NIA earlier this week, following which she announced that she would meet journalists at her residence at 3 pm on Friday.
However, close to the time announced by the PDP chief, a posse of police personnel stopped journalists about 100 metres away from her 'Fairview' residence in Gupkar area of the city saying the press conference was not allowed "as per the orders from the higher ups".
"Press has been barred from entering my residence in Srinagar. This despite no written orders explaining my arbitrary detention. Kashmir is an open air prison where no one has the right to express their opinion," Mufti said on Twitter.
Though police, through its unverified Twitter account, said Mufti was not under house arrest and was only asked to postpone her visit to Pulwama purely due to security reasons, the PDP leader's daughter Iltija put out a video saying she was not being allowed to leave the premises by the police officials present there.
She enquired through the iron gate at her residence about the reasons for detaining her and her mother, and a policeman posted outside said "please go to the other gate. SP Saab and Magistrate are there".
The former chief minister had sought permission to visit Parra's residence on Friday to meet the family of the party's youth leader. She had said that Parra was arrested on "baseless charges".
"Ive been illegally detained yet again. Since two days, J&K admin has refused to allow me to visit @parawahid's family in Pulwama. BJP Ministers & their puppets are allowed to move around in every corner of Kashmir but security is a problem only in my case," Mufti said in a tweet earlier.
She said her daughter has also been put under the house arrest.
"Their cruelty knows no bounds. Waheed was arrested on baseless charges & I am not allowed to even console his family. Even my daughter Iltija has been placed under house arrest because she also wanted to visit Waheed's family," the PDP chief said on Twitter.
In a communication posted by Mufti on her official twitter handle, Additional Director General of Police and Director Special Security Group S D Singh sought rescheduling of the proposed visit of the former chief minister to the Naira village on the demand of the Pulwama district police.
The Pulwama Police sought the rescheduling of her programme citing that neither an anti-sabotage check nor a proper route sanitisation had been done as the entire manpower was committed for other election related operation duties.
"PDP leader Ms Mehbooba Mufti is not under house arrest. She was requested to #postpone her visit to #Pulwama purely due to #security reasons," Kashmir Zone Police said on Twitter.
Reacting to the alleged detention, National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah said personal liberty was being treated as a favour by the government that gives and withdraws it at will, while the judiciary does not interfere.
"Parking a truck in front of our gates is now standard operating procedure for this admin. They did the same to my father recently to stop him from praying. Personal liberty is treated as a favour by the govt, to give & withdraw at will, with no interference from the judiciary," Abdullah wrote on Twitter.
His father and NC president Farooq Abdullah was on October 30 prevented from leaving his residence to offer prayers at Hazratbal shrine on the occasion of Eid-Milad-un-Nabi.
The former chief minister accused the administration of using "fear and intimidation" to muffle any form of opposition just a day before the commencement of the District Development Council polls.
"We are one day away from DDC polling & its evident that the admin here is using fear & intimidation in tandem to muffle any form of opposition," she said on Twitter.
Jammu and Kashmir is all set for the maiden District Development Council polls and by-elections to the panchayat and urban local bodies, scheduled to be held in eight phases beginning November 28.
Parra was arrested by the NIA on Wednesday for allegedly seeking help from Hizbul Mujahideen terror group in seeking their support in the 2019 Parliamentary elections in which Mehbooba was the PDP candidate.