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NC delegation meets Farooq, Omar Abdullah for the first time since detention, PDP too allowed to meet Mehbooba

In the first major political activity in Jammu and Kashmir since withdrawal of its special status two months ago, a 15-member National Conference delegation on Sunday met detained party leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah here, while the PDP said its leaders from Jammu have also been allowed to meet party chief Mehbooba Mufti on Monday.

The NC delegation, which was permitted by the Jammu and Kashmir administration to meet the Abdullahs for the first time since their detention, demanded that their leaders and other political detainees be freed to "revive" the political process in the state, where Block Development Council (BDC) elections are scheduled for October 24.

The leaders said they discussed developments in the state and upcoming local body polls during their separate meetings with National Conference president Farooq Abduallah and his son and party vice president Omar Abdullah.

Omar, who was sporting a beard, was seen clicking a selfie with party leaders whom he met for over 30 minutes at Hari Niwas Palace where he has been kept in detention.

The delegation then drove to Farooq Abdullah''s residence. He was earlier in preventive custody but later detained under the Public Safety Act.

Farooq Abdullah, with wife Molly Abdullah by his side, showed the victory sign and waved to the media as the NC leaders met him.

"We are happy they are both well and in high spirits. Of course, they are pained and anguished about developments, particularly lockdown of the people," the NC''s Jammu chief Davinder Singh Rana who led the party delegation said.

This was the first meeting of Omar with a party delegation after he was detained on August 5 along with other political leaders of the state and separatists following the Centre''s decision to revoke special status to the state under Article 370 of the Constitution.

Emerging after the meeting, Rana told reporters that for any political process to begin, the leaders of the party need to be released.

There is "anguish about developments particularly about lockdown of the people and we, as a party, appeal that the political process to start and democracy to revive in Jammu and Kashmir.

"Political detenues anywhere and everywhere, whether from mainstream political parties or otherwise, who have no criminal record, may be released to initiate the process and the hearts and minds of the people of Jammu and Kashmir are won," he said.

The other major Jammu and Kashmir party, PDP, also announced that its delegation from Jammu has been allowed to meet detained party president Mehbooba Mufti, on Monday.
"The Peoples Democratic Party delegation will be led by General Secretary Ved Mahajan," former PDP legislator and spokesperson Firdous Tak told PTI.

This will also be the first meeting of PDP leaders with Mehbooba Mufti, who was among the leaders detained on August 5.

Tak said the PDP had requested Governor Satya Pal Malik to allow the meeting and "we have been conveyed that the permission has been granted".

Both the parties said that after restrictions on political leaders in Jammu were removed, they decided to approach the governor to permit meeting with their detained leaders.

Asked about the party''s stand on the upcoming BDC elections, NC leader Rana said, "There is a complete lockdown. If the political process has to start then these members have to be released."

Rana said their "party which has a rich legacy is of unanimous view that it would continue to strive for the welfare of the people and shall continue to work for communal harmony, brotherhood, togetherness and keep the secular fabric of the state shining".

“In case of NC, even if we want to contest the BDC elections, the 380 panchayats that exist, the mandate has to be signed by the party president who has been unfortunately detained under the PSA,” he said.

The NC leader said the party''s working committee would decide on the future course of action whenever the party leaders including the NC president and vice-president would be released. 

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