Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti will remain detained under the stringent Public Safety Act after the authorities extended it by another three months, barely three hours before it was to expire.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration also extended the detention of senior National Conference leader Ali Mohammed Sagar and People’s Democratic Party’s Sartaj Madani for three months under the Public Safety Act (PSA).
The order extending the PSA, issued by the home department of the UT, evoked sharp reactions from political parties.
“Stifling voices of reason has become the norm for the current dispensation esp post illegal scrapping of Article 370. Therefore, extension of my mother’s detention doesn’t surprise me. Wishful thinking to assume that by smothering any debate on Article 370, the issue will vanish,” Iltija, Mehbooba’s daughter of Mufti, tweeted from her mother’s official handle.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, who was released from the PSA in March, termed the extension of the PSA on Mufti and others “unbelievably cruel and retrograde decision”.
In a tweet, he said “…nothing she has done or said in any way justifies the way the Indian state has treated her and the others detained.”
On the detention of Sagar, who is NC general secretary, Omar tweeted, “I’m struggling to get my head around the decision and the logic behind it because it smacks of vindictiveness and nothing else. New Delhi needed to make friends in JK but is doing the opposite.”
While Mufti is at present lodged at her official residence ‘Fair View’, which has been converted into a subsidiary jail, Sagar and Madani are in a government accommodation at Gupkar road.
Mufti was initially detained on August 5 last year when the Centre abrogated the special status of the erstwhile state and divided it into two union territories – Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.
Later, her six-month preventive custody was extended by invoking the PSA on February 5, alongside her political rival and former chief minister Omar Abdullah.
Having spent over eight months in detention at two government facilities that were designated as sub-jails, Mehbooba was shifted to her home on April 7, a move seen as a partial relief to her.
Earlier, Mehbooba was lodged at a government guesthouse in Chashma Shahi and a bungalow on Maulana Azad Road near Lal Chowk. Mehbooba heads the PDP, which was in power in Jammu and Kashmir in alliance with the BJP till June 2018.
Several political leaders including Omar, Mehbooba and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah were detained by the authorities on August 5 last year. The PSA of senior Abdullah and his son was revoked earlier in March this year.
Mufti’s daughter, Iltija, moved a habeas corpus petition before the Supreme Court in February challenging her mother’s detention.
A three-judge bench had issued a notice to the Jammu and Kashmir administration seeking its response on the plea and posted the matter for March 18. However, the petition was not taken up for hearing due to coronavirus outbreak.
Habeas corpus is a writ seeking production of a person supposed to be in illegal detention before a court.