JAMMU: The treatment being meted to Kashmiri leaders by the Centre makes them feel that they are not under "house arrest" but are "guests," said Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Sunday.
"The detained leaders will be freed much before 18 months, which is less than what Atal Bihari Vajpayee and other leaders faced during the Emergency," said Singh, while addressing an event here.
"Amit Shah is very lenient. We did not send them to Kodaikanal where Sheikh Abdullah was sent. They are given brown bread, gym, and cassettes of Hollywood movies. I say they are not under house arrest. They are more like house guests," added Singh.
He further went on to add that the detention of Jana Sangh leader Syama Prasad Mukherjee, which led to his death, by the then Jammu and Kashmir leader Sheikh Abdullah was a mistake and despite some forces trying to give a communal angle to the abrogation of Article 370, it was and always will be a social issue.
"Syama Prasad Mukherjee's arrest and death was a big mistake by Sheikh Abdullah. It gave fuel to the fire of abrogation of two flags and two symbols from Jammu and Kashmir, which was finally carried out on August 5," Singh said.
He said that after the abrogation of Article 370, there have been efforts to make it a communal issue by claiming that it is anti-Muslim, but this abrogation is totally a social issue. "This Article kept many common people deprived of their actual rights," he said.
BJP national vice-President Shyam Jaju and Union Minister Anurag Thakur were also present in the event organised to mark the birth anniversary of former Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir Hari Singh.
The Union Minister added that the people of the region would realise the true benefit of the Central government's actions after October 31 when all the benefits reach them.
"After October 31 when they will get the benefits of the Centre, people will know how Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done good to them," Singh said.
Giving the background of the Centre's decision on Jammu and Kashmir, he said: "The stepping stone of abrogating the provision of Article 370 was laid during the Amarnath agitation in 2008 when people and leaders of Jammu took to streets for three months."
BJP national vice president Shyam Jaju, while attacking Kashmiri leaders, said: "Maharaj Hari Singh had given powers to the common people before 1947 but the rulers after 1947 did not. Just one family enjoyed and earned money and did not do anything for the people."(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)