By Zaffar Iqbal
Srinagar, Aug 24 (IANS) The government has opened up channels of communication with former Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, who were arrested ahead of the scrapping of Article 370 earlier this month.
Highly placed official sources said a team comprising members of different Central agencies met with the two leaders in Srinagar to allow their release on “certain conditions”.
The government wants to release the mainstream leaders and allow them to reach out to their party workers, but it does not want them to issue any statements or indulge in activities that would aggravate the situation in the Valley.
Sources said Omar Abdullah has sought more time to come up with a response.
Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was released earlier this week after he gave an assurance not give any provocatory statements, sources said.
Since their arrest, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti are barred from meeting people. While Omar Abdullah is lodged in Hari Niwas, Mehbooba Mufti is in a guest house in Chasma Shahi.
Omar’s father and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah is also under house arrest at his home on Gupkar Road and is restricted from meeting people.
The party headquarters of both the National Conference as well as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Srinagar wear a deserted look with only the security staff seen around.
Analysts say the latest outreach by the government could also be a step to ward off the sharp criticism generated over the arrest of mainstream state politicians.