Written byShalini Ojha
In an unprecedented development, Farooq Abdullah, the President of National Conference (NC) and a three-time former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir has been detained under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA), reports said on Monday.
This Act allows the government to detain a person without a trial for two years.
To note, Abdullah has been a strong critic of Centre's Article 370 decision.
Ironically, it was Abdullah's father Sheikh Abdullah whose government introduced the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, to prevent smuggling of timber.
It got the Governor's assent on April 8, 1978. Since the beginning, the law was widely misused with governments imposing it on political opponents.
In July 2016, hundreds of Kashmiri youngsters were detained under PSA after the death of terrorist Burhan Wani.
With detention under PSA approved by the government, 81-year-old Abdullah has become a prisoner in his house in Srinagar's Gupkar.
His residence in one of the Valley's most protected areas has been converted into a subsidiary jail. The roads leading to his house are dotted with security officials.
"However, there is no bar on him meeting relatives, friends who visit him," a source said.
In recent times, Abdullah is the second politician to be booked under the tough law, the first one being Shah Faesal, the IAS-turned-leader who founded Jammu and Kashmir People's Movement.
Usually, PSA is evoked for terrorists, separatists, and stone-pelters, but this is the first time that the seniormost mainstream politician has been charged under it.
He had been under house arrest since August 5.
It should be recalled that on August 6, Union Home Minister Amit Shah claimed Abdullah hasn't been detained/arrested, like his son Omar or their political rival Mehbooba Mufti.
"If he doesn't want to come then we cannot make him do so at gun-point," Shah had said.
Abdullah, however, dismissed this asking why would "he stay in his house willingly when his state was burning".
Now, the order to detain Abdullah under PSA came before the Supreme Court heard a habeas corpus petition filed by Tamil Nadu politician Vaiko.
MDMK leader Vaiko, said to be a close friend of Abdullah for the last four decades, requested that the senior politician is produced before the top court.
Raising questions on Vaiko's plea, Centre said he isn't a "relative of Abdullah".
In court, Vaiko's counsel said, "Union home minister said Abdullah was not under any kind of detention, but we don't know his whereabouts."
Thereafter, a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, and including Justices SA Nazeer and SA Bobde, issued notices to Centre and J&K administration on Vaiko's plea.
The court fixed September 30 as next date of hearing.
Love Politics news?
Subscribe to stay updated.