Post-Release, Dr Farooq’s Day 1: The Complete Story

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SRINAGAR: More than 30 hours after he was set free, National conference president, Dr Farooq Abdullah is yet to break his silence over the politics of the place. On Saturday when he met many people including his party workers, he thanked them for their prayers and avoided to make any political comment.

Dr Farooq Abdullah with her wife and daughter after being released from detention. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

Dr Abdullah was informed that he is a free man on Friday at around 1:30 pm. This marked the undoing of the restrictions on his movement imposed in August 2019. He was booked under Public Safety Act which was due for a quarterly extension, something that the administration decided against using, this time.

Soon after the news spread, Dr Abdullah’s Gupkar residence was visited by media and around 100 party workers. He thanked them for their concern and prayers. Later, he told media that all the politicians must be set free and once that happens he will talk. Almost confusing reporters, he said he will attend the parliament, currently in session, and talk.

“I have no words, today I am free, I am free,” Dr Abdullah said in his first reaction to the release. “I’m grateful to people of the state and all leaders and people in the rest of the country who spoke for our freedom. This freedom will be complete when all leaders are released. I hope the Government of India will take action to release everyone.”

Last evening, Dr Abdullah drove to Hazratbal where he prayed at the grave of his father, Sheikh Abdullah. His wife and daughter, Safiya, accompanied him.

Dr Farooq Abdullah with his wife and grandson at his father’s grave after being released from detention. KL Image

Saturday morning, Dr Abdullah accompanied his wife Molly, and daughter to the Hari Nivas palace where he met Omar Abdullah, NC sources said they spent almost 40 minutes with Omar, who is also arrested under the Public Safety Act. His case is listed before the Supreme Court on March 17. There were no details about the meetings that presumably was a family reunion.

The only detail available is that Omar accompanied his parents and saw them off. A new agency has released a photograph showing a bearded man accompanying Mrs and Dr Abdullah.

Soon after Dr Abdullah received senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad at his residence. Azad had flown specially to see him after his release. Seemingly it was an emotional reunion as the two leaders hugged each other before the cameras. NC sources said that the two leaders went inside Dr Abdullah’s home and had a meeting for more than two hours. It was a luncheon meeting.

Dr Farooq Abdullah with his wife and daughter met his son Omar Abdullah at Hari Niwas Place after being released from detention. KL Image

After the meeting both the leaders faced the media together. “Development in Jammu and Kashmir cannot be carried out by putting the leaders under detention but can be proceeded only after the leaders are released and a political process is initiated,” Azad told the reporters. Asserting that the development process has come to a grinding halt and that necessitates that all the leaders should be set free at the earliest.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad prevented Dr Farooq Abdullah’s fall on the stairs on March 14, 2020, when the two leaders came out of the meeting in Srinagar.

“It is the happiest moment to meet Dr Abdullah after seven months. He is a friend,” Azad said. “I met him on behalf of those who raised voice against the detention of these leaders since August last year either in parliament or at different platforms.”

Lambasting the central government for scrapping Article 370, Azad’s focus was on the loss of statehood. He said it was an “insult to the people” of Jammu and Kashmir. “How can such a large state be called a UT?” Azad asked.

Azad called for early elections and demanded the immediate release of political leaders. Without naming the Apni Party, Azad said “agency-backed party won’t survive” in Kashmir.

With Azad alongside, the 83-year old Dr Abdullah avoided talking anything on the politics of Jammu and Kashmir.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and Dr Farooq Abdullah speaking to media in Srinagar on March 14, 2020. Azad flew specially from Delhi to meet his friend. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Speaking with Kashmir Life from Delhi, NC’s MP Husnain Masoodi said that he has no idea if at all his president and fellow MP will be able to attend the Lok Sabha, currently in session. “He recently had eye surgery and I do not know if he will be able to attend,” Masoodi said. Dr Abdullah did face a problem while walking down the stairs with Azad. He slipped and was actually helped by Azad. Had Azad not supported him, the fall could have injured Dr Abdullah.

Asked why Dr Abdullah is not talking, Masoodi said he is waiting for the release of other leaders. He said there is an indication that the government may set free all the political detainees in coming days. Masoodi said that the government had to set Dr Abdullah free as for his continued detention they had to frame new charge sheet under PSA.

Masoodi has no explanation for Dr Abndullah’s continued denial in talking about politics unless the other members of the political class do not move out of the jails.

On Sunday, Dr Abdullah will be visited by a major delegation of his party from Jammu. They will be returning home by evening. “People are happy over the development,” one NC leader from Jammu said. “BJP is the only party that has not liked the decision.”

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