Srinagar, Jul 31: The authorities Friday extended the detention of PDP chief and former BJP ally Mehbooba Mufti under the PSA, but released Sajad Gani Lone, another partner in the last coalition government of the erstwhile state, almost after one year of detention following abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Mehbooba’s detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA) has been extended by three months, officials said. According to an order issued by the home department, she will continue to remain under detention at her official residence at Fairview Bungalow, which has been declared a subsidiary jail, on posh Gupkar Road.
Mehbooba was among hundreds of political figures taken into preventive custody hours before the Centre revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and divided the state into two union territories on August 5 last year. The current detention term of the former chief minister was expiring on this August 5.
“The law enforcing agencies have recommended further extension in the period of detention and on examination, the same is considered to be necessary,” the home department order reads. Most of the other mainstream politicians including Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah have been released from custody.
Earlier in the day, the administration decided to release Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference (JKPC) chairman Sajad Gani Lone after nearly a year-long detention, officials said. Mehbooba’s PDP as well as Lone’s PC were allies of the BJP in the last elected government of the erstwhile state. Lone was released from detention days ahead of the first anniversary of the Centre’s decision to revoke provision of Article 370.
“Finally 5 days short of a year I have been officially informed that I am a free man. So much has changed. So have I. Jail was not a new experience. Earlier ones were harsh with usual doses of physical torture. But this was psychologically draining. Much to share hopefully soon,” Lone tweeted. Officials said the JKPC chairman was moved to his residence here in February this year and placed under house arrest.
Lone, a former cabinet minister in the PDP-BJP coalition, was initially kept at a makeshift jail at Centaur hotel on the banks of the famous Dal Lake along with other leaders from mainstream parties before they all were moved to an MLA hostel here. However, in February, Lone and PDP leader Waheed Parra were moved to their residences and were kept under house arrest.
Reacting to the extension of Mehbooba’s detention, her daughter Iltija Mufti said a petition challenging her detention was pending before the Supreme Court since February. “I’d like to confirm media reports that Ms Mufti’s PSA has been extended until November 2020. The petition challenging her unlawful detention has been pending in SC since 26th February. Where does one seek justice?” she tweeted from her mother’s handle.
Meanwhile, a PDP spokesman said they will not be cowed down into submission and such “vindictive measures” will not deter the party from pursuing its core agenda. He termed the extension of Mehbooba’s detention a highly “undemocratic, unconstitutional and inhuman approach” of the government.
“Such measures are aimed to intimidate. They will have far-reaching consequences and are bound to only increase the level of alienation and frustration among the people who had been plundered of their identity last year on August 5,”he added. The spokesman found it “bizarre” that the government is hell-bent to hound the PDP president through such illegal, unethical and undemocratic measures , while a petition against her detention is pending in the SC for the past six months.
No quantum of pressure and intimidation can push us into submission and to give up on our resolve to fight for the honour and dignity of the people of J&K, he said. It is ironic, he said, that the BJP still believes in the efficacy of these methods and is trying to repeat the old mistakes which will be meaningless and will prove counterproductive.