Eight Opposition Parties Seeks Release of 3 Former Chief Ministers

SRINAGAR: In order to press the demand for the release of three incarcerated former Chief Ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, eight opposition political parties have sent a joint resolution to the BJP-led Central government. The three politicians are in custody since August when the central government withdrew the special status and bifurcated the erstwhile state into two Union Territories.

File image of Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

The political parties, according to the joint resolution, have alleged that in Modi government the “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.”

“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,” the resolution said. It has insisted that their continued incarceration is a “blatant violation of their fundamental rights”.

The signatories include leaders from the Nationalist Congress Party, Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal-Secular, CPM, CPI, Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal and former BJP ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie. Congress was not signatory to the resolution.

Here is the resolution:

“The following leaders have issued a joint statement to the media.

Shri Sharad Pawar, President, Nationalist Congress Party
Kum. Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal and President, Trinamool Congress
Shri H.D. Deve Gowda, former Prime Minister – Janata Dal (Secular)
Shri Sitaram Yechury, General Secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Shri D. Raja, General Secretary, Communist Party of India
Prof Manoj Kumar Jha, MP (Rajya Sabha), Rashtriya Janata Dal
Shri Yashwant Sinha, former Minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji’s government
Shri Arun Shourie, former Minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji’s government

Dr Farooq Abdullah with the 15 member delegation of his party workers at his Gupkar residence declared sub-jail by the government. . KL Image by Bilal Bahadur
Dr Farooq Abdullah with the 15 member delegation of his party workers at his Gupkar residence declared sub-jail by the government. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

India and its Constitution have always stood for ‘unity in diversity’ with everybody’s views respected, honoured and heard. However, 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. There are growing assaults on democratic norms, fundamental rights and civic liberties of citizens of the Indian Republic. As a result, dissent is not only being stifled, but the avenues of raising critical voices are also being systematically muted.

Nothing exemplifies this more starkly than the continuing detention, on flimsiest of grounds, of three former Chief Ministers of Jammu & Kashmir — Dr Farooq Abdullah, Shri Omar Abdullah and Smt Mehbooba Mufti — for over seven months. 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. Ironically, the BJP itself has allied with all three of them, and their parties, in the past, both at the Centre (with National Conference) and in the state (with People’s Democratic Party). The very validity of the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA), 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.

The indefinite detention of the three former CMs of J&K, along with many other political activists, is a blatant violation of their fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. This must be seen in the larger context of the prolonged lockdown of the state since 5 August 2019, which also is an attack on the Constitutionally assured rights and dignity of millions of our sisters and brothers in Kashmir.

All this exposes the oft-repeated lie of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Home Minister Shri Amit Shah that the situation in J&K is “completely normal”. Whereas 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 representatives of India’s own political and media establishment to move freely in the state and assess the situation on the ground.

Under these circumstances, political parties committed to safeguarding the fundamental rights of the citizens and securing the sanctity of the Constitution, cannot sit quiet. It is our bounden duty to demand the immediate release of the three former Chief Ministers of J&K and all the other political detainees. We also demand 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.”

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