AGRA – Dr Mubeen Shah, a Non Resident Indian businessman detained in the aftermath of the August 5 crackdown on political leaders and businessmen in Jammu and Kashmir, was “temporarily released” on Saturday.
Shah, who is based out of Malaysia, walked out of the Agra Central Jail and was received by his brother Niyaz, who had been fighting in the Supreme Court to seek his release.
Refusing to talk to the media citing that the case was sub-judice, Niyaz drove away with his brother, Mubeen, who was detained on August 7 and immediately shifted to the central jail in Agra.
The release order issued by Home Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir union territory said “…the government hereby orders the temporary release of Dr Mubeen Shah…presently under detention… from December 7, 2019 to March 6, 2020 subject to the conditions laid down in the bond”.
Shah “shall surrender before district magistrate Srinagar on March 7, 2020 at 11 AM after the expiry of the period of his temporary release, if not extended for any further period or upon cancellation of the temporary release order.”
Shah, in his bond, has mentioned that he would not “indulge in any unlawful, illegal or secessionist activities which have the potential of endangering peace or is prejudicial to the maintenance of public order during the period of my temporary release”.
Shah is among the host of politicians, social activists and businessmen detained after August 5, when the Centre withdrew special status to the erstwhile state and also bifurcated it into two union territories — Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.
He is possibly the first person charged under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA) who has been released by the union territory administration without any such directions from the court.
Shah’s family had approached the Supreme Court seeking quashing of the PSA. After hearing in the matter began, the Jammu and Kashmir administration, finding itself on the back foot, had assured that they would release Mubeen Shah. The case is listed for hearing again on December 9.
Shah was released under sub-section 2 of section 20 of the PSA, which allows the government to release a person at any time for any specified period either without conditions or upon such conditions specified in the direction as that person accepts and may at any time time cancel his release.
“In directing the release of any person, the government may require him to enter into a bond with or without sureties for the due observance of the condition specified in the directions,” the Act says.
Mubeen Shah figured during the ‘US Congress hearing on South Asia human rights, focused on India action in Kashmir’ last month when Indian-American Democratic Party’s lawmaker from Washington’s 7th Congressional district Pramila Jayapal raised the issue about his detention.
“One of the individuals detained without charges is Dr Mubeen Shah, who is the uncle of my constituents in Seattle…this is former CEO of chamber of commerce. His urologist who is affiliated with Registrar General of Hospital has called for his immediate release because of serious medical issues.”
The Deputy Ambassador to India “told me that he is receiving all medical help but that is not what the family is saying, that is not what his doctors are saying and I remain deeply concerned” she said.
Assuring Jayapal, the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice G Wells replied that America had taken up the issue of Shah with the Indian government.
“Yes, we explicitly raised the case of Dr Shah and shared your concern about the grounds for detention particularly given the health condition. We have received a response that he is receiving medication,” she said.
Based out of Malaysia, where he runs his handicrafts business, Shah used to visit Kashmir once in a year. Earlier, he was president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
He had come to Kashmir in May this year from Malaysia for a short duration but had to extend it due to a bereavement in his family and later due to infection for which he was undergoing treatment in the Srinagar hospital.