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Tuesday Mar 24 2020
Web Desk

Kashmiri leader Omar Abdullah freed by Indian authorities after near-eight-month detention

Web Desk
Omar Abdullah, pictured with his parents after his release. — Photo courtesy Omar Abdullah's Twitter account

Omar Abdullah, the former chief minister of India-occupied Kashmir, was released on Tuesday after a near eight-month-long detention in Srinagar by Indian authorities.

Abdullah, along with Mehbooba Mufti — also a former chief minister — had been placed under house arrest in August last year after the BJP-led Indian government revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution that granted special status to the occupied region.

The two politicians were initially detained under a law that allowed a maximum imprisonment of six months. When that period was about to expire in February, it was extended under the draconian Public Safety Act, which allows detention without charges for up to two years.

Following his release, after a period counted by Abdullah as 232 days, the Kashmiri leader said that the world is "very different" from the one that existed on August 5, 2019 — the day he was arrested.

The leader expressed his delight to be back with his parents "for the first time in almost 8 months".

He also thanked all those who had taken the fight against "the unjust PSA detention" to the Indian Supreme Court, especially his sister Sara Abdullah who had filed the petition. 

Mufti, who remains detained, is among scores of Kashmiris still held under the PSA, which had previously been mostly used against fighters opposed to Indian rule in held Kashmir.

Abdullah’s father, Farooq Abdullah, a member of the Indian parliament and also a former chief minister, was released earlier this month.

'Political quarantine'

Meanwhile, Senior Congress leader and former chief minister of occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said that Kashmir is on ventilator after the Indian government put it under a “political quarantine” for the past eight months and called for a release of all detainees. 

He said that the situation there is "worse than what it was even 30 years ago.

Azad, who is Leader of Opposition in the Upper House of the Indian Parliament demanded an immediate release of all Kashmiri political detainees during a debate in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, Kashmir Media Service reported.

The Congress leader said that there was no development in Jammu and Kashmir ever since it was bifurcated and deprived of special status contrary to the claims made by the BJP-led Indian government.

He said it would have been better if the budget for Jammu and Kashmir was discussed in the Assembly there, adding that it was being deliberated upon at a time when the entire world was under the grip of the coronavirus and making efforts to get out of it.

The Congress leader said that the situation would have been different if there were natural calamities such as floods, earthquake, and outbreak of diseases — over which no one had any control, adding: “But the problem in Jammu and Kashmir for seven months and a half is not because of nature or gods. It is because of the government [of India].”

“The calamity has not been brought by foreign invaders[…]The protector itself has become a disaster,” said Azad.

I urge the government to release political workers, leaders and allow political activity, he said, adding: “I also urge the government that statehood will have to be restored at the earliest, without any delay.”