Omar Abdullah freed from detention, seeks release of all prisoners
Immediately after being freed, Omar Abdullah appealed the government to release all the detainees languishing in different jails in and outside Jammu and Kashmir. Abdullah also demanded the release of his political adversary and erstwhile counterpart, Mehbooba Mufti and restoration of high-speed data services.
Last August, when former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was arrested, he was suave and deferential. On Tuesday, after more than seven months, he walked out of detention sporting a grey scraggy beard and more pronounced crow's feet.
The authorities on Tuesday morning revoked the detention of Abdullah Junior and set him free.
Abdullah, however, would no longer be able to walk or drive down the streets of Srinagar as the entire Valley has been reeling under curfew-like restrictions amid the ballooning number of COVID positive cases across the country.
Abdullah's release came after the Supreme court--a week before--asked the government to respond by this week about its plans to release him. The apex court, while hearing the petition of Sarah Abdullah Pilot seeking the release of her brother, Abdullah, had asked the government: "Now that things are settled in Kashmir, what are your instructions for his (Omar Abdullah's) release,"
Initially, Abdullah was put under preventive detention hours before the government revoked the special position of Jammu and Kashmir; but on February 5, he along with Mehbooba Mufti, another former Chief Minister, was slapped with the controversial Public Safety Act with his dossier carrying rather outlandish charges.
A couple of weeks ago, his father and sitting Lok Sabha member from Srinagar, Farooq Abdullah was released from detention.
Immediately after his release, Omar told a group of journalists outside his residence that he would speak about the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and the events that followed later, as currently, the people were grappling with a life and death situation.
He, however, appealed the government to release all the detainees languishing in different jails in and outside Jammu and Kashmir. Abdullah also demanded the release of his political adversary and erstwhile counterpart, Mehbooba Mufti and restoration of high-speed data services.
Iltija Mufti, who handles the twitter handle of her mother Mufti, tweeted that she was glad that Abdullah was released. In her tweet, she panned the government for not setting her mother free, saying that it seems like this regime fears women most.
" For all their talk about Nari Shakti and women emancipation, it seems like this regime fears women most", she tweeted.
Glad he will be released. For all their talk of nari Shakti & women emancipation, seems like this regime fears women the most https://t.co/J0GrXCCC5i— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) March 24, 2020
Hours before the government had stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy, thousands of people including the political leaders, from both main and off-stream political parties, lawyers and social activists, were incarcerated.
On March 11, Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy informed Rajya Sabha that Jammu and Kashmir authorities had taken 7,357 persons in preventive custody since August 2019. He said that 451 people are under detention and of them 396 were slapped with PSA.
Months before the government's August 5 move, the authorities banned a religiopolitical organisation Jamaat-I-Islamia and also detained hundreds of its members in a massive clampdown.
The release of Abdullahs is seen as a step towards initiating the political process in Jammu and Kashmir. The political waters in the region were frozen over since August 5 last year.
"It is a good step to start the political process in this troubled region. Now the government must release the other leaders as well", says Shahnawaz Mantoo, a Valley-based political observer.
He adds that the government should adopt a non-partisan approach in releasing political detainees and that this is imperative for the survival of democracy.
The voices seeking the release of political and non-political prisoners have significantly amplified since the outbreak of Covid 19. The families of many detainees have been repeatedly demanding the release of their members in view of the baffling disease killing people across the globe. Six people have thus far tested positive for coronavirus in Jammu and Kashmir.