Omar Abdullah’s sister challenges his detention under PSA in SC

Srinagar

Omar Abdullah’s sister Sara Abdullah Pilot has challenged his detention and charges under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) before the Supreme Court, and asked for the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister to be freed immediately, reported NDTV.

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

According to report, Sara Abdullah Pilot has said her brother’s detention is a grave violation of his constitutional rights including freedom of speech, and is part of a “consistent and concerted effort to muzzle all political rivals”.

Omar Abdullah, detained without charges since August 5 — when the government ended special status to Jammu and Kashmir — was formally detained under the PSA last week.

Similar orders of detention had been issued over the last seven months “in a wholly mechanical manner” to others detained, according to report Sara Abdullah Pilot says in her petition.

“The order conflates ‘Governmental policy’ with the ‘Indian State’, suggesting that any opposition to the former constitutes a threat to the latter. This is wholly antithetical to a democratic polity and undermines the Indian Constitution,” NDTV quoted the petition as saying.

“…a reference to all the public statements and messages posted by the detinue during the period up to his first detention would reveal that he kept calling for peace and co-operation – messages which in Gandhi’s India cannot remotely affect public order.”

Abdullah was not even served with the material that formed the basis of detention, she says.

Details of the charges listed out in a dossier against the 49-year-old National Conference leader have sparked surprise and anger.

The dossier, accessed by NDTV, includes his “ability to garner votes even during peak militancy and poll boycotts”.

The dossier, accessed by NDTV, says Abdullah, who has been a former junior foreign minister and commerce minister, can influence people for any cause and specifically cites his ability to bring voters out in the wake of boycott calls by separatists. “The capacity of the subject to influence people for any cause can be gauged from the fact that he was able to convince his electorate to come out and vote in huge numbers even during peak of militancy and poll boycotts,”  it says.

Abdullah “favours radical thoughts which he has turned into actions”, according to the charges, but no evidence is given to back this claim.

Omar Abdullah was in preventive detention under Section 107 of the CRPC since August 5, 2019. Under the law, his detention was to end six months later on February 5, 2020.

On February 5, the government used the Public Safety Act against him and another former Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti. This extends their detention by 3 months without trial and it can be extended for up to one year.

Other charges include Omar Abdullah’s opposition to the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370 and “instigating people on Twitter against the unity and integrity of the Nation”. No twitter posts have been cited to back up this allegation.

Abdullah’s last tweets before his detention call for peace and calm.

The dossier says the former chief minister is using politics as a cover for planning activities against the union government.

It says “despite the fact that the subject has been a mainstream politician, he has been planning his activities against the Union of India under the guise of politics. And while enjoying the support of gullible masses, he has been successful in execution of such activities”.

The dossier says Omar Abdullah “removed his cover and resorted to dirty politics and radical methodology” after the abrogation of 370, to instigate general masses against the policies of the central government.

However, Omar Abdullah has been in solitary detention since before the abrogation was announced in Parliament on August 5, 2019, so it is not clear how he instigated people after the Article 370 move.

The government has also cited grounds of detention against Omar based on his popularity among people: “The subject is a popular figure among masses and has tremendous potential for diverting energy of common people for any cause,” reported NDTV.

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