For many mainstream political leaders presently under detention in Jammu and Kashmir, it could well be an ‘out of the frying pan into the fire’ situation.
The UT administration, headed by Lieutenant Governor G.C. Marmu, is weighing options to release most of them before the end of January.
But highly placed sources told IANS that many of these detained politicians, who have held important portfolios as ministers in the past state governments, are likely to be picked up by the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) ‘for causing huge losses to the exchequer through fraudulent work allotments, swindling of huge government subsidies and also for gross abuse and misuse of official position that literally amounted to loot and plunder of government funds’.
It may be recalled that Sheikh Imran, the former mayor of Srinagar Municipal Corporation, was picked up by the sleuths of the ACB immediately after he was released from detention last week.
Imran has been accused of inflating bills and invoices in one of his business units for which he obtained huge subsidies from the government for an investment he had never made.
Some officials of the state industries department, who allegedly helped Imran to claim subsidies, are also going to be booked along with him, sources added.
There are still 29 political leaders of mainstream parties who are under detention inside the MLA hostel in Srinagar that has been declared as a sub-jail.
Three former chief ministers, Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti also continue to remain under detention since August 5, 2019, when Article 370 was abrogated.
Omar and Mufti have been lodged in two government quarters adjacent to Maulana Azad road in Srinagar while the elder Abdullah is in detention at his high security Gupkar Road residence.
"Many of the detained political leaders have clear cut cases of corruption, nepotism and favouritism against them and all these cases have resulted in huge siphoning of public funds.
“Tenders have been allotted to blue-eyed contractors without public notice, purchases have been made without asking for competitive rates and over a dozen other instances of gross misuse of power by these politicians have come to light”, sources said.
"All of them are looking for their political resurrection by going to the people once they are released from present detention.
“If many of the prominent leaders among them fall into the ACB net it would be an out of the frying pan into the fire situation for them”, said sources.
Reliable sources said at least five senior leaders of political parties are likely to be booked immediately by the ACB after the UT administration decides to set them free.
A statement made on Friday by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in which he asserted that nobody ever said the detained mainstream political leaders were anti-national, only brought short-lived relief for the detained leaders.
“Amit Shah said they are not anti-national, but he never said they are honest. Politics is a separate ball game while the law acting against corruption is an entirely different thing”, said a senior BJP leader.
Would the dream of regaining political power end for some detained Kashmiri leaders because their hands would be full defending themselves against corruption charges after their present detention ends?