‘Freedom is incomplete till other detained leaders are released’, he says.
In a significant step to allow the resumption of regional politics, the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Friday released National Conference (NC) president and sitting MP Dr. Farooq Abdullah, 82, by revoking his detention under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA).
Dr. Abdullah, who was in detention for over seven months, said his “freedom is incomplete till other detained leaders are released”.
Dr. Abdullah, an ex-Union Minister, has become the first of the three incarcerated former Chief Ministers to be set free since the Centre revoked J&K’s autonomous status on August 5 last. NC vice president Omar Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti, continue to remain in detention in Srinagar.
J&K Principal Secretary, Home, Shaleen Kabra, in an order, said Dr. Abdullah’s detention under the PSA, first in September last and again in December, had been withdrawn.
His second PSA detention was coming to an end this month.
Dr. Abdullah appeared with his wife and daughter before the media on Srinagar’s Gupkar Road, where his house was turned into a sub-jail by the authorities.
Also read: Omar Abdullah used politics to cover his radical ideology: Public Safety Act dossier
“I am grateful to people of the State and of the nation and those who spoke for our freedom. This freedom is incomplete till all other leaders like Ms. Mufti and Omar, are released. Also those in the MLA hostel [referring to Shah Faesal] and in outside jails. I hope the Government of India will take action soon, to see all live as free citizens,” he said.
Indicating to abide by the Gupkar Declaration signed by all regional parties — including the PDP, the NC, the Peoples Conference (PC) and the J&K Peoples Movement — on August 4, 2019, Dr. Abdullah reserved his comments on critical issues of autonomy, Article 370 and 35A. The joint declaration had then opposed any move to dilute J&K’s special status.
“I will not speak on any political matter till all leaders are released,” he said.
An NC spokesman termed the release of the party leader as “a step in the right direction for restoration of genuine political processes”. “As the pre-eminent political party of J&K, the NC has played a key role in strengthening the voice of people and will continue to do so,” he said.
PDP leader Firdous Tak said, “The unconstitutional, illegal, inhuman and unjustified detention has finally ended and better sense has prevailed. Hope to see early release of other detainees. The state will be looking forward for guidance of Dr. Abdullah”.
CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami said the release was a step to correct one wrong among many wrongs. “There is no political activity in J&K. The government must create conducive atmosphere for the same. Curbs on assembly of people must end too,” he added.
Welcoming the government decision, PC leader Imran Ansari said, “I take this opportunity to demand the release of our chairman Sajad Lone, who is under strict house arrest. We also demand release of our workers detained under the PSA,” he added.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, in a tweet, said, “Welcome the belated release of Dr. Abdullah…his detention was a disgrace.”