Omar Abdullah, in detention since August, released; speaks on coronavirus
More than seven months after he was detained, former Chief Minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, was released on Tuesday. His release comes days after his father Farooq Abdullah was released, earlier this month. Though the Abdullahs have been granted freedom, their political adversary Mehbooba Mufti, the chief of PDP, is in detention since August 2019.
Article 370 was scrapped, politicians were detained
Several mainstream politicians of J&K were arrested in August when the BJP-led government scrapped Article 370, which granted special status to the northernmost state. The state was also split into two Union Territories — J&K, and Ladakh. Anticipating that the historic decision will have violent repercussions, Centre sent forces to the state and arrested politicians, who could fan unrest through their speeches.
Omar, Mehbooba, and Farooq were detained under PSA
Omar was detained without charges earlier but later, the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) was imposed against him. The law was introduced by his grandfather Sheikh Abdullah, to control timber smuggling, and allows the government to detain someone without trial for months. Mehbooba and Farooq were also detained under the same law, and the government received a barrage of criticism.
Omar was held for urging people to vote
In February, when details of PSA dossier emerged, it was learned that Omar was held on flimsy grounds. "The capacity of the subject to influence people for any cause can be gauged from the fact that he was able to convince his electorate to come out and vote in huge numbers even during the peak of militancy and poll boycotts," the document read.
Release Omar or we will hear the case: SC
Notably, Omar's prolonged detention was challenged in the Supreme Court by his sister Sara Abdullah Pilot, who claimed the government was muzzling voices of critics. Last week, the top court asked the Centre to file a reply within a week. "If you are releasing him, then release him soon or we will hear the matter on merits," the top court said.
Watch: A bearded Omar, walks as a free man
We are fighting battle of life and death: Omar
Released after several months, Omar said he will speak about the incidents of August later since the focus is on the battle of life and death. He asked everyone to follow directives of government in dealing with coronavirus. "We are fighting a war of life and death. All our people who have been detained should be released at this time," he added.