A day after the Jammu and Kashmir administration told the Supreme Court that Saifuddin Soz “is not under detention”, the Congress leader remained confined to his home and was not allowed by the police to either go out or let anyone in.
The police claimed that Saifuddin Soz’s movement was being restricted because of coronavirus precautions and asserted that what the Jammu and Kashmir administration had told the Supreme Court was completely true.
“We stand by what the government has said in the affidavit before the Supreme Court,” said a senior officer.
“He is not being allowed to come out because of coronavirus. 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” he said.
Mr Soz was “never detained nor under house arrest” and there are “no restrictions on his movement subject to security clearance,” the J&K administration told the court.
After the administration’s statement, the Supreme Court closed the case of illegal detention filed by the Congress veteran’s wife.
Mr Soz, who has been seen speaking to the media and screaming at the police from behind a barbed wire fence on the boundary wall of his home near the Srinagar airport, rebutted police claims.
“In the Supreme Court, the government said Soz is a free man, he’s not under detention and that he was never been under detention. Curse this police, it is a police state. These cops are stopping me,” railed the politician, furious.
Police guards posted outside Mr Soz’s home said they wouldn’t allow any videography and asked the media to leave.
A senior police officer said it was because of COVID-19 that entry into Mr Soz’s home had been restricted as well.
“Due to COVID, we can’t compromise the lives of our jawans and the senior leader. Already we have 50 police personnel in the security wing who have been infected. 500 personnel have been quarantined. In such a situation, how can we take a risk,” he asked.
Scores of political leaders were detained in August last year after the government decided to scrap special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and downgraded it into two union territories. Communication and movement were severely restricted and thousands of security personnel were posted as part of the measures enforced by the centre to check unrest.
Many politicians alleged that the absence of formal detention orders has given the government the scope of plausible deniability.