THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 10 MARCH, 2020
Release Political Prisoners in Kashmir Demand 8 Opposition Leaders
Eight Opposition Party members have demanded the immediate release of all political prisoners in Jammu and Kashmir.
Special emphasis was laid on the release of former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah, and Farooq Abdullah.
Both Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah were detained under preventive custody before the Centre’s abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019. Currently, they are detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA) after the end of the term-limit of their preventive custody on February 6, 2020.
Meanwhile, Omar Abdullah’s father Farooq Abdullah is currently detained at his residence in Gupkar Road, Srinagar.
This joint statement, released on March 9, 2020, includes Sharad Pawar (National Congress Party Chief), H D Deve Gowda (National President of Janta Dal (Secular) Party), Mamta Banerjee (Chief Minister of West Bengal), D Raja (Leader of Communist Party of India), Sitaram Yechury (General Secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist), Professor Manoj Kumar Jha (Rajya Sabha MP). It also includes the endorsement of Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha, former ministers during Atal Bihar Vajpayee’s reign.
However, Congress is not a part of this.
“In the government of Shri Narendra Modi, democratic dissent is being muzzled by coercive administrative action, which has threatened the basic ideals of Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity as enshrined in our Constitution,” reads the statement.
“There is nothing in the past records of these three leaders to lend credence to the Modi government’s false and self-serving claim that they pose a threat to “public safety” in J&K or that they have endangered national interests with their activities,” declares the statement.
The statement also questions the legitimacy of PSA.
Under this administrative detention law, individuals can be detained for up to two years without charge or trial, thereby being termed as a ‘draconian act’ or ‘lawless law.’
“The very validity of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 can be challenged following the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution as the state has now been stripped off its Special Status,” proclaims the statement.
Meanwhile, few other Kashmiri political leaders who have also been slapped with the PSA include Shah Faesal (Former Indian bureaucrat), Naeem Akhtar (Leader of Peoples Democratic Party) and Hilal Lone (Leader of National Conference).
Hinting at the third guided tour of around 25 foreign envoys from 20 countries to Jammu and Kashmir in February 2020, the statement questions the legitimacy of such visits.
“The government has recently organized well-choreographed visits of the foreign diplomats to Srinagar in a bid to show the world that the situation in J&K is “normal”, it has placed all kinds of hurdles in the attempts of the representatives of India’s own political and media establishment to move freely in the state and assess the situation of the ground,” comments the statement.
Towards the end, the joint statement also calls for the restoration of rights and lives in J&K.
“We also demand the complete and verifiable restoration of the rights and freedoms of our Kashmiri brethren, who, against all odds, have repeatedly shown their allegiance to the Indian Union, by being an integral part of our democratic process.”