'Freedom incomplete till others are released,' says Farooq Abdullah, freed from house arrest after 220 days

The Government of Jammu and Kashmir, on Friday finally revoked the detention order of Srinagar MP Farooq Abdullah after he spent more than seven months in captivity.

FP Staff March 13, 2020 13:56:47 IST
'Freedom incomplete till others are released,' says Farooq Abdullah, freed from house arrest after 220 days

The Government of Jammu and Kashmir, on Friday, revoked the detention order of Srinagar MP Farooq Abdullah after he spent more than seven months in captivity.

Abdullah, who was the first chief minister to have been booked under the PSA, appeared after 220 days before reporters and said, "Today, I am free but this freedom is not complete. It will be complete when other leaders like Omar, Mehbooba Mufti and others in outside jails are released."

The Lok Sabha member from Srinagar, Abdullah, who was flanked by his family members including his wife Molie Abdullah, expressed gratitude to all the people including the leaders of the country who raised the issue of his detention in Parliament.

Freedom incomplete till others are released says Farooq Abdullah freed from house arrest after 220 days

File image of Farooq Abdullah. PTI

"I would also like to express gratitude to every individual who prayed for us ... I will not speak on any political matter till others are released," he said, not accepting any questions from the scribes.
Abdullah, who underwent an eye surgery earlier this week, expressed hope that he would be able to attend Parliament so that he can raise the voice of the people there.

Immediately after his release, the National Conference issued a statement welcoming the decision and also urged the Union Territory administration to release other political leaders including party vice president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah.

According to a statement issued by the National Conference (NC), the release of its patron from detention was the right step towards restoration of a genuine political process in Jammu and Kashmir.

It said the process would receive further fillip when party vice-president Omar Abdullah and other political detainees are set free. "We urge the government to do so at the earliest," it said.

"As the pre-eminent political party of Jammu and Kashmir, the National Conference has played a key role in strengthening the voice of the people through democracy and will continue to do so," the statement said.

Abdullah's son Omar as well as former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti were slapped with the PSA on 6 February, the day on which their six-month term of preventive detention was to end.

Abdullah, a five-time parliamentarian, has been under detention since 5 August when the Centre abrogated special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state.

He was the first politician from the Kashmir Valley to be booked under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) that enables the State to detain any person in Jammu and Kashmir for up to two years without a trial or charge, merely on the assumption that they are a threat to law and order and public safety. The detaining authority is also not required to reveal any facts "which it considers being against the public interest to disclose" regarding the detention.

The PSA 1978 of Jammu & Kashmir was first slapped against the 82-year-old MP on 17 September, hours before the Supreme Court was to hear a petition by MDMK leader Vaiko who claimed that the National Conference leader was detained illegally. Incidentally, the law was brought in by the MP's father Sheikh Abdullah, the then prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir, ostensibly stop timber smuggling.

However, the law earned notoriety over the years as it was repeatedly employed against political opponents by consecutive governments until 1990. After the emergence of militancy, the Jammu and Kashmir government frequently invoked the PSA to crack down on separatists.

The 82-year-old Abdullah has a heart pacemaker implanted and had undergone a kidney transplant a few years ago. His Gupkar Road house was declared a sub-jail by the Union Territory's Home Department.

With inputs from PTI

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