Srinagar – In a partial relief, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti was on Tuesday moved to her official residence where she would continue to be in detention under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA).
Having spent over eight months in detention at two government facilities that were designated as sub-jails, Mufti reached her home Tuesday evening as a posse of media personnel, braving rains, made attempts to capture the former chief minister.
Mufti heads the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which was in power in Jammu and Kashmir in alliance with the BJP till June 2018.
“Ms Mufti is home but still booked under PSA. Media wasn’t given access to her at all despite waiting for hours. Is GOI scared that she’ll articulate her views on illegal abrogation of Article 370? Time doesn’t change facts or erase a betrayal etched in memory,” Mufti’s daughter Iltija posted on her mother’s Twitter account.
Iltija said that once the restrictions on her mother are finally lifted, she will approach all stakeholders for a joint strategy to move forward.
“She will also speak to the press about her views on what transpired post 5th August,” she tweeted.
Iltija also tweeted her mother’s appeal to the Centre for releasing all detainees including political leadership jailed in and outside JK immediately.
Political leaders, including Mufti and two other former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, were detained on August 5 last year when the Centre announced its decisions to abrogate the special status of the erstwhile state and divide it into two Union Territories.
Initially, she was taken into preventive custody. Later on February 6 this year, she was slapped with the PSA along with Omar Abdullah, who was released recently. The senior Abdullah had been released early last month.
According to an official order issued by the home department of the Union Territory, “The government hereby orders the change of place of lodgement of Ms Mehbooba Mufti…to subsidiary jail, Fairview, Gupkar Road, Srinagar, with immediate effect.”
Fairview is the official residence of Mufti, which is located on the high-security Gupkar Road.
Earlier, Mufti was lodged a government guesthouse in Chashma Shahi and a bunglow on Maulana Azad Road near Lal Chowk.
Reacting to the development, Omar Abdullah said that Mufti should be released and the PSA slapped on her should be revoked.
In a tweet, he said, “Mehbooba Mufti must be set free. Shifting her home while continuing to keep her detained is a cop out.”
Iltija expressed gratitude to the media in Kashmir for their concern and well-wishes.
“May I please humbly request that you give the family privacy as we wait for her to come home today. Please remember this isn’t a release and the house has been declared as a subsidiary jail,” she tweeted.
The Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference (JKPC) said the continued detention of its chairman Sajad Lone, who is under house arrest, Mufti and other mainstream politicians was “authoritarian”.
“The continued detention of @JKPC_ Chairman @sajadlone and @jkpdp President @MehboobaMufti and a number of senior mainstream leaders is authoritarian. They’ve been under detention for more than 8 months now- not allowed access to the media, to their colleagues and their relatives,” JKPC leader Junaid Azim Mattu said on Twitter.
Iltija has moved a habeas corpus petition before the Supreme Court in February challenging her mother’s detention.
A three-judge bench had issued a notice to the Jammu and Kashmir administration seeking its response on the plea and posted the matter for a hearing on March 18. However, the petition was not taken up for hearing due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Habeas corpus is a writ seeking production of a person supposed to be in illegal detention before a court.
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