Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah’s sister has moved the Supreme Court challenging his detention under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA).
Abdullah’s “considerable influence” over people, including the ability to attract voters to polling booths despite poll boycott calls and the potential for channelling energies of public for any cause, has been cited in support of his detention under PSA.
His political opponent and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti has been accused of making anti-national statements and extending support to organisations such as the Jamaat-e-Islamia of the state, which has been banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The PSA dossier prepared by the police against the 49-year-old Omar, who had served as minister of state for external affairs as well as commerce and industries, states his ability to convince electorates to vote in huge numbers even during the peak of militancy and poll boycott calls by separatists and militants.
The grounds of detention against Omar, who was chief minister of the state from 2009-14, claim that on the eve of reorganisation of the state he had made attempts to provoke general masses against the revocation of Articles 370 and 35-A.
The grounds also mention his comments on social networking sites to instigate common people against the decisions on Articles 370 and 35-A which had the potential of disturbing public order.
Abdullah was detained the night before Article 370 was abrogated. These were his tweets before he was taken to Hari Nivas for preventive detention:
Restrictions have been put on communication links since August 5 last year. These were subsequently eased. Internet is functional at a few places through leased lines. Mobile internet facility has been made functional but with a speed of 2G with special instructions that it would not be used to access social media sites.
Omar and the 60-year-old Mehbooba Mufti had been under preventive detention since August 5 last year, when the Centre announced abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution granting a special status and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two union territories ― Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir.
They were booked under the PSA on the night of February 6, barely a few hours before their preventive detention was to end.
According to rules, preventive detention can be extended beyond six months only if an advisory board, constituted two weeks before the completion of the 180-day period, recommends for that.
Mehbooba has been slapped with the PSA for her remarks which included challenging accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India in case the Article 370 was abrogated.
The statements of the former chief minister, whose party PDP was an ally of the BJP till June 2018, on security forces killing militants was also made a part of the PSA dossier against her.
Her support to the Jamaat-e-Islamia group of Jammu and Kashmir after it was declared as a banned organisation by the Centre under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) also figures in the dossier.
Omar’s father, Farooq Abdullah, who is a five-time chief minister and currently a member of Lok Sabha, was booked in September last year under the PSA, a law which was enacted by his father Sheikh Abdullah in 1978 to fight timber smugglers in the state as they would easily get away with minimal detention those days.
Sheikh Abdullah brought the Act as a deterrent against timber smugglers as it provided a jail term, without a trial, for up to two years.
However, this Act came in handy for the police and security forces during the early 1990s when militancy erupted in the state.
After then Union home minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed enforced the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the state in 1990, authorities used the PSA to detain people.
The Act was amended in 2012 and some of its stricter provisions were relaxed. After the amendment, period up to which a first-time offender or individual can be put in detention without trial was reduced from two years to three months.
PDP’s Naeem Akhtar is 6th mainstream leader to be booked under PSA
The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Saturday slapped PSA on senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar, officials said.
Akhtar became the sixth mainstream leader in Kashmir to be booked under the controversial PSA, which was enacted in 1978 to deal with rampant timber smuggling.
National Conference (NC) general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar and PDP leader Sarah Madni have also been detained under the PSA.
Over 20 leaders have either been released or shifted to their residences and put under house arrest.