SRINAGAR –The opposition parties on Friday lashed out at the government for slapping controversial Public Safety Act (PSA) against the two incarcerated former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.
Coming down heavily on the Centre, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra today questioned the basis on which Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were booked under the PSA.
Taking to Twitter, Priyanka said the two Jammu and Kashmir leaders have upheld the Constitution and abided by the democratic process and never ascribed to violence and divisiveness.
“On what basis has PSA been slapped on Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti? They upheld the Constitution of India, abided by the democratic process, stood up to separatists, and never ascribed to violence and divisiveness.
“They deserve to be freed, not incarcerated indefinitely without any basis,” she said on Twitter.
Senior Congress leader and former Home Minister P Chidambaram slammed the government for invoking the PSA against former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers.
In a series of tweets, Chidambaram said, “Shocked and devastated by the cruel invocation of the Public Safety Act against Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and others”.
“Detention without charges is the worst abomination in a democracy. When unjust laws are passed or unjust laws are invoked, what option do the people have than to protest peacefully?” the former home minister tweeted.
Leader of Opposition Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for criticising Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti in Parliament on Thursday and added, “You cannot govern Kashmir like this.”
“Prime Minister spoke against Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti in Parliament yesterday and they were charged with Public Safety Act (PSA) at night. Physically Kashmir is with us but not emotionally,” Newsgathering agency ANI quoted him as saying.
On Thursday, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, both former Chief Ministers of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state were booked under the controversial law that allows detention of any individual for up to two years without a trial or charge.
Omar’s father Farooq Abdullah became the first Chief Minister of the state to be booked under the PSA on September 17, Abdullah, 81, was charged with disturbing public order.
Ironically, PSA was introduced by Omar’s grandfather and the then Chief Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1978 to book timber smugglers but later on it was rampantly used against political opponents and activists seeking Kashmir settlement. Amnesty International has termed it a “lawless law”.
Meanwhile, the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also hit out at the government over the decision.
“The measure debunks the claim of the BJP-led central government on restoration of normalcy in J and K. The present situation in J and K is far from normal,” NC leaders Muhammad Akbar lone, Hasnain Masoodi and Imran Nabi Dar said in a joint statement.
The invocation of the PSA on NC leaders and others is yet another atrocious move of blatant illustration of the Centre’s high-handedness, it said.
Reacting to the development, A PDP spokesperson described the slapping of the PSA on the leaders as “most condemnable” and said the Union government is “testing the patience of the people of Jammu and Kashmir by such undemocratic steps”.
“If everything is normal in Jammu and Kashmir, why the mainstream leaders are treated like criminals?” he asked.
“The BJP is misleading the country about Jammu and Kashmir,” the spokesperson added.
Jammu and Kashmir unit of the CPI(M) also condemned the slapping of the PSA on the prominent Kashmiri leaders.
Senior CPI(M) leader and former legislator M Y Tarigami said the decision puts a question mark on the Centre’s claim that the situation is normal in J and K post the abrogation of special status and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into UTs on August 5 last year.
“On one hand, the BJP within and outside Parliament is claiming that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is normal, on the other it is resorting to the use of draconian laws against prominent leaders.
“What is the meaning of slapping the PSA on the leaders after six months? They (government) are claiming that the situation is normal and improving and are releasing the detained political leaders,” he said.
Will Go To Speaker Over PM’s Controversial Quote: NC
The National Conference said on Friday that the party will request Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clarify a quote that he attributed to their leader Omar Abdullah in parliament on Thursday.
On Thursday, PM Modi had accused Omar Abdullah of saying that the move of abrogating special status of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir would “bring an earthquake that would separate it from India”.
However, NC rejected PM’s claim saying that it was indeed alarming that the PM was quoting a satirical website to attack Omar in the Parliament.
“On one hand the home minister has been maintaining that he never referred to the former incarcerated CMs of J and K as anti-nationals, on the other hand we have the PM saying that they have been fanning terrorism. Who is to be believed then?” NC leaders Muhammad Akbar lone, Hasnain Masoodi and Imran Nabi Dar said in a joint statement today.
The NC said the allegations against Omar Abdullah were baseless.
“On the contrary it is the NC that has been at the receiving end, and here we have the PSA invoked on a person who has all along been advocating peace and non-violence. The incumbent central government has chosen to belittle his contribution. We condemn the measure in strongest terms,” the party statement said.
“Omar Abdullah made no such statement. Every statement of Omar Abdullah is in the public domain,” National Conference spokesperson Imran Dar told New Delhi based NDTV.
His party colleague Hasnain Masoodi told the news channel that if record is not corrected, this will be recorded as parliament proceedings.
“We will urge the Speaker to request the Prime Minister to clarify on source of information. And, if found to be incorrect, the remarks must be removed from proceedings,” Masoodi said.
The NC said the world community is worked up to see how the BJP-led central government is treating the former CMs of J and K.
The same representatives, New Delhi once maintained, were the genuine and real representative voices of J and K, it said.
“For past many decades New Delhi has been flaunting political and diplomatic messages about the Kashmiris making their choices by using ballot boxes. However, the same party, and the same leaders on which people had reposed their faith are now been targeted, revealing all-encompassing crackdown of the BJP-led central government in J and K. The only reason why the NC leaders are under arrest is because they do not agree with Narendra Modi and Amit Shah,” the party added.
Referring to the detention of NC president Farooq Abdullah under the PSA for past six months, the leaders said former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during the Agra Summit had referred to the ex-CM as the “third party” to the issue of J and K.
“He undoubtedly qualified the claim owing to his representative character. But now the same person is under detention for the past six months. The same person who held high the torch of democracy in a state torn by conflict, at the risk to his life. But today we see how he along with his party colleagues is being treated. All the democratic voices of J and K have been thrown under the bus purely for their conscience,” the statement said.
Farooq Abdullah was booked under the PSA in September last year which was reviewed again in December for a period of three months.