Omar Abdullah, after release from detention, urges Centre to free political detainees, restore high-speed internet in wake of coronavirus outbreak

Omar Abdullah's release order was issued after charges under the Public Safety Act (PSA), slapped on him in February, were revoked

FP Staff March 24, 2020 11:51:15 IST
Omar Abdullah,  after release from detention, urges Centre to free political detainees, restore high-speed internet in wake of coronavirus outbreak

National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah , who was released on Tuesday after being in detention for nearly eight months, urged the Centre to release all political detainees in Jammu and Kashmir, including PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, especially in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

"The politics and situation of this state, what happened on 5 August (last year), I will talk about it in detail, but first, let us get rid of the coronavirus, save ourselves and our families and friends. And then all those detained, be it within the state or outside it, I want the Centre to have mercy on them, bring them home and release them," Omar told reporters outside his residence.

"Be it Mehbooba Mufti or my NC colleagues, or leaders from PDP or from any other party. Some do not belong to any party, but are in detention since August (last year). In these difficult times, they should be brought back to their families," PTI quoted him as saying.

Omar Abdullah  after release from detention urges Centre to free political detainees restore highspeed internet in wake of coronavirus outbreak

File image of former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah. Twitter@sameeryasir

The National Conference leader was initially put under preventive custody after the Centre abrogated provisions of Article 370 on 5 August last year. The Public Security Act (PSA) was invoked to mandate his continued detention on 5 February.

His release order was issued after charges under the PSA were recently revoked.

Omar said people faced many hardships after the decisions of the Centre on 5 August, 2019, but the time was not ripe to talk about them as the people were fighting "the war of life and death".

"The hardships that the people faced. Our children couldn’t go to schools for many months, shopkeepers didn't have an earning for months. People associated with hotels, taxis, houseboat, shikara and factories had to face difficulties. I was detained at one place, but the difficulties the people here faced, they were kept at their homes, I had thought that I will talk a lot about it, but today I realise that we are fighting a huge war – the war of life and death.”

"Be it Article 370 or 35A or UT or bifurcation of the state, I will talk to you in detail once the current situation passes," he added.

He also called on the government to restore high-speed mobile connectivity in the Union Territory and appealed to people to follow the government's directives to fight the coronavirus.

"Unfortunately, we have gathered here against the government’s directions. We were told that social distancing should be followed, that we should take precautions to contain the spread of this disease. However, what lesson will we give to the people when we ourselves are not ready to follow it," he said.

"I humbly appeal the Centre to lift the restrictions on the communication...At least 3G/4G should be restored. We are told to take lessons on awareness about coronavirus from the internet, but what to do when nothing opens (because of low speed)," he said.
Soon after his release, Omar took to Twitter and posted a picture of himself sporting long pepper beard.

He also shared a picture of himself with his parents.

The former chief minister said that he will take all efforts to help authorities contain the spread of the disease.

He indicated that he may start a blog with tips for dealing with being under quarantine.

The former chief minister also thanked his lawyers and his sister Sara for fighting for his release.

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