How Media Commented On Omar Abdullah’s Release?

SRINAGAR: Unlike his father Dr Farooq Abdullah, when Omar Abdullah was set free, social distancing and lock-down were in vogue. He could barely talk to a group of reporters at his father’s Gupkar residence gate and later took over the control of his twitter account.

Viral photograph of Omar Abdullah’s on the social media
Omar Abdullah

Since his release happened in a different world, there is no possibility of it contributing to any political revival. The entire focus of individuals, institutions and the government is on managing the Coronavirus pandemic.

The major newspapers based in Delhi and elsewhere are also preoccupied with the crisis. At a time when the newspapers are running literally short of space, some newspapers did editorially comment on Omar Abdullah’s release.

A Double Atrocity
The Indian Express
March 26, 2020

Government must urgently release remaining prisoners in Kashmir and restore high-speed internet in these anxious times.

The apparent brazenness with which the government arrested the entire political leadership of J&K under preventive sections on August 5 last year, and then used the PSA, with its draconian provisions, to extend their detention, does not bode well in a constitutional democracy.

One more high-profile detainee under the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act has been released. Once again, the government at the Centre has given no reason why former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had to be detained eight months ago, and later booked under a law deployed against dangerous criminals, or why it has decided to release him now. Nor will it say why only he and his father, Lok Sabha MP Farooq Abdullah, have been released, and not the others detained under this law, among them another former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti.

Coronavirus: Omar Abdullah Offers Tips For Better Life In Quarantine

The apparent brazenness with which the government arrested the entire political leadership of J&K under preventive sections on August 5 last year, and then used the PSA, with its draconian provisions, to extend their detention, does not bode well in a constitutional democracy. Some senior leaders in the BJP have offered the facetious explanation that the people of J&K were happy that their political leaders had been jailed. Others justified the arrests in the name of the “security situation”. Even though it is clear that such authoritarian actions can pave the way for a greater erosion of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, by and large, these justifications have not been challenged adequately or vigorously. It is even more egregious that the courts became mere onlookers to these decisions.

At this time when India is battling a dangerous infectious disease and faces a situation like no other in its 73-year history, Kashmir has the misfortune of being doubly anxious. The disease has not spared J&K. There have been 11 confirmed cases so far. Meanwhile, hundreds of Kashmiris detained last year, on the day the government stripped the state of its special status and divided it into two Union Territories, remain imprisoned in J&K and in jails in other states. For the government to continue their detention during this terrible time is a double atrocity on them and their families. Further, while the rest of the country can freely access information on COVID-19 from across the world, J&K still does not have full-fledged access to the internet to enable people to understand this disease from a multiplicity of sources. Its doctors are struggling with low-speed access to the net. The government must immediately release the remaining prisoners, wherever they are jailed, and restore full speed internet without delay.

Dr Farooq’s Release: How Media Commented?

Omar’s Detention Ends
The Tribune
March 26, 2020

Free Mehbooba, too, and restart the political process

The release of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah after nearly eight months of detention, coincidentally at the height of Covid fear, is a timely reminder to the rest of the country as to how it feels to be locked up. Omar’s release comes 11 days after that of his father and former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah. Farooq had insisted that his freedom is incomplete till other leaders are released. Now one more ex-CM, the former ally of the BJP, Mehbooba Mufti continues to be in confinement. With Farooq and Omar walking free, Mufti’s release can only be a matter of time. But these developments raise a fundamental question: what did the government achieve by keeping the most important political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir incarcerated for three quarters of a year?

A former constitutional authority of J&K had recently made an extremely flippant remark — revealing his confidential conversation with the head of the Union Territory’s bureaucracy — that there was apprehension of a thousand people getting killed after the abrogation of Article 370. This statement exposed a mindset, which also reflected in the arrest — first under preventive detention, and then the dreaded Public Safety Act 1978 — of the most popular leaders of the Valley. But contrary to the muscle-flexing bravado of this variety, it was the maturity and sobriety of the leaders of J&K that helped people come to terms with the new reality, however harsh and offensive it might have appeared to them. Even while walking out of Hari Niwas, Omar Abdullah, who turned 50 in detention, was mindful of the people’s hardship during these trying times of the pandemic caused by Novel Coronavirus.

A Bearded Omar or Clean Shaven, Twitter Goes To Polls!

The Centre should now release Mehbooba Mufti, and then act decisively to restart the political process. The first step is the restoration of 4G Internet connection, helping people to reconnect with the world, and also to help them work from home during this global lockdown, just as the rest of the country does. When Delhi and Mumbai have finally realised what a lockdown means, they need to empathise with the people of J&K


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