‘Humiliating to the core’: how India turned a Kashmir hotel into a jail

The Centaur hotel was transformed into a gilded prison for once-powerful politicians loyal to India

It was a prison unlike any other. The picturesque venue, on the lake front in the city of Srinagar in Kashmir, just minutes from a golf course, usually functions as a palatial hotel, but for three months last year it became a gilded jailhouse for Salman Sagar and dozens of once-powerful Kashmiri ministers and legislators.

“It was a jail,” said Sagar. “The notion was given that it was five star but it was not …They put immense psychological pressure on us. They were as strict as possible.”

Sagar, an influential politician in Kashmir’s National Congress party and the former mayor of Srinagar, was among nearly 50 senior politicians who were arrested in August and held in the Centaur hotel, and later a hostel, for six months without being charged with any crime. The mass arrests followed the Indian government’s swift and brutal decision on 5 August last year to revoke Article 370, the law that had given this disputed Himalayan region a special semi-autonomous status for almost seven decades


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