Srinagar – Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah was on Tuesday freed after eight months in detention after the administration revoked the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) against him.
A swarm of media personnel and supporters, many of them in masks, waited for him outside his residence after he was released.
The National Conference leader, who turned 50 on March 10, has been under detention since August 5, when the Centre announced the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 and its bifurcation into the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
The order revoking the PSA against him was issued by Home Secretary Shaleen Kabra. Abdullah was booked under the stringent act on February 5, hours before his six-month custody under preventive detention was to end.
The government has revoked his detention with immediate effect , the order stated.
Abdullah’s mother was the first to arrive at the makeshift detention centre after news came in that her son was about to be released. He was kept at the state guesthouse Hari Nivas, just a few hundred metres from his official residence.
On February 10, Omar’s sister moved the top Court challenging his detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA).
The Supreme Court last week asked the centre to respond by this week whether it planned to free him.
“If you are releasing him, then release him soon or we will hear the matter on merits,” the Supreme Court told the government.
“Now that things are settled in Kashmir, what are your instructions for his (Omar Abdullah’s) release,” the judges asked.
On March 13, Omar Abdullah’s father Farooq Abdullah, also a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was freed.
Omar Abdullah was detained without charges but later, the government charged him the Public Safety Act (PSA). The charges listed out in a dossier against the 49-year-old National Conference leader included his “ability to garner votes even during peak militancy and poll boycotts”. It said Mr Abdullah, a former Union Minister, could influence people for any cause and specifically cited his ability to bring voters out in the wake of boycott calls by separatists.