Srinagar: People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Waheed ur Rehman Para was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday in connection with a militancy case. The case pertains to disgraced Jammu and Kashmir police officer Davinder Singh.
Waheed was arrested after he was summoned by the law enforcement agency to its New Delhi headquarters for interrogation. The summons and his subsequent arrest come only a day after the 35-year-old leader had filed his nomination for the upcoming District Development Council (DDC) polls scheduled for later this week.
Davinder Singh was arrested by the J&K police earlier in January along with Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Naveed Babu, who the officer was allegedly ferrying in a private vehicle on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. The police had intercepted the duo, who were accompanied by Irfan Mir, a law graduate and native of south Kashmir.
The NIA has since taken on the investigation in the case and has questioned several persons and suspects. The PDP leader’s arrest, according to a security official privy to developments, has been made in the same case filed under the Arms Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Para, an influential youth leader from south Kashmir’s Pulwama area, is a post-graduate in peace and conflict studies from the Islamic University of Science and Technology in Awantipora. A close aide of former CM Mehbooba Mufti, Para held the post of secretary of the J&K Sports Council during the PDP-BJP coalition government in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. He resigned from the post in June, 2018. He was preparing to contest the upcoming DDC polls from his home constituency in Pulwama.
The PDP leader was among the mainstream politicians who were detained after the Central Government unilaterally abrogated Article 370 and subsequently bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories on August 5 last year. He was held at a government accommodation turned sub-jail for six months and later confined to his Srinagar residence for several months.
The PDP condemned its leader’s arrest in a statement, calling it the BJPs attempt to “criminalise dissent.”
“He was arrested immediately after filing the nomination for the polls – a clear attempt by a central agency to meddle with the electoral process and influence it in favor of the cronies of New Delhi,” a PDP spokesperson told NewsClick.
The party also claimed that with it being a part of the People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), leaders from the alliance have been stopped from campaigning. “After dislodging the space for mainstream politics, caging kashmiris in jails and in homes, BJP government has now resorted to arm twisting the mainstream politicians into obedience through covert threats and intimidation (sic),” the party statement read.
Waheed’s arrest, the party spokesperson added, was a sign of the “level of depravity to which the BJP and RSS can go to target and damage their political opponents.” The party, however, said that Para’s arrest will not deter it.
“A very important member of our party is being targeted for not only voicing his stand against the ills of the Administration but also having the sheer courage to contest in elections after repeated harassment at the hands of the state (sic),” the party statement added.