Soz under house arrest, accuses J&K admin of ’lying’ in SC

Srinagar: Senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz continued to be under house arrest on Thursday, in spite of the Jammu and Kashmir administration informing the Supreme Court that there are no curbs on the movement of the former Union minister.

Talking briefly to reporters from behind the walls of his residence, Soz said he will approach the court again about the Jammu and Kashmir administration "lying" before the apex court.

"Now they are lying to the Supreme Court that I am a free man. I will go to the court for whatever it is worth," he said.

A security officer in civvies dragged the veteran Congress leader away from the reporters and asked other personnel in uniform to chase away the scribes. "Chase them away from here," the unidentified officer shouted as he pulled Soz down from the wall.

The Congress leader could be heard shouting back at the officer, saying, "Do not touch me." Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called for immediate release of Soz, saying "illegal" detention of political leaders damages the fabric of the country.

"The illegal detention of political leaders with absolutely no basis damages the fabric of our nation. Mr Soz must be released at once," the former Congress chief said in a tweet.

Earlier, in a statement, Soz said he would sue the government for his "unlawful house arrest" since August 5 last year, when the Centre revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, and termed the government's response in the Supreme Court that he was not under detention as "falsehood".

"I take a strong exception to the government stand before the Supreme Court that I had neither been put under house arrest nor had any restrictions been imposed on me since August 5, 2019," he said, adding that the government has resorted to "falsehood as it had unlawfully incarcerated me since August 5, 2019".

"All this while, I was not allowed to move out of my premises. I left my premises twice, when I had to visit my ailing sister and I went to Delhi on 17th September, 2019 to 21st September, 2019 and 15th December, 2019 to 21st December, 2019 for seeking medical advice. Whenever I went out of my premises since August 5, 2019, I had to obtain permission from the government," Soz said.

The former Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) president added that he has decided to sue the government for his "unlawful" house arrest.

"I have decided to sue the government for my unlawful house arrest since August 5, 2019. I will further sue the government for compensation for the incarceration and illegal suspension of civil liberties to which I am entitled under the Constitution," he said.

In an affidavit before the Supreme Court, the Jammu and Kashmir administration had said Soz was "never detained nor under house arrest" and there are "no restrictions on his movement subject to security clearance".

The government's affidavit came in response to a petition by Soz's wife, seeking her husband's release from "illegal detention" and to be brought before the court.

Rahul calls for immediate release

New Delhi: Calling for immediate release of Jammu and Kashmir Congress leader Saifuddin Soz, Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said ‘illegal’ detention of political leaders damages the fabric of the country.

"The illegal detention of political leaders with absolutely no basis damages the fabric of our nation. Mr Soz must be released at once," Gandhi tweeted.

Gandhi has been critical of the government's handling of the Jammu and Kashmir situation and detention of political leaders since August 5 last year.

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