Rights

Shah Faesal Stopped from Travelling, Detained Under Public Safety Act

The J&K People's Movement leader was taken into custody at the Delhi airport and flown back to Srinagar.

New Delhi: Bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal was taken into custody at the Delhi airport today and taken to Srinagar, where he was detained under the Public Safety Act.

Officials told PTI that he was on his way to Istanbul. His friend, however, told The Hindu that he was on his way to Harvard. According to the newspaper, it is unclear which agency detained the politician in Delhi. The airport DCP said he had “no information” about the arrest, and immigration officials too told The Hindu that they were not involved.

Faesal’s detention comes at a time when Kashmir has been witnessing a communications blackout and hundreds of political leaders have been detained, ever since the Narendra Modi government decided to read down Article 370, revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcate the state. Former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah have been detained for 10 days now. As The Wire has reported, the government has not felt the need to reveal what charges have been filed against them.

Faesal was stopped at the Delhi airport, taken into custody and flown to Srinagar. The PSA, under which he has been charged, allows the government to detain a person without trial for three to six months.

Also read: In Kashmir, the Plan Is Not Just to Control but Also Humiliate an Entire People

The J&K People’s Movement leader has been openly critical of the Centre’s decisions. Despite the communications blackout, he has managed to put up Facebook posts and also give a media interview. On Tuesday, he tweeted that you can now either be “a stooge or a separatist” as mainstream politics in the Kashmir Valley has been wiped out with the changes to Article 370.

Rights advocates from around the world have been critical of the Centre’s moves in Kashmir, including the crushing of all voices and using pellet guns against protestors. In the last few days, multiple ground reports have highlighted how people are being adversely affected by the transport and communication blackouts.

The PSA is also a widely criticised law. The Jammu and Kashmir police has been using it to detain protestors for years, without having to explain in a court of law what they think the accused did wrong. Last year, advocate Nasir Qadri told The Wire that the Act is used indiscriminately to stifle dissent. “Young boys have suffered particularly. From 2016 to February 2018, 1,150 people were detained under PSA. As many as 55-60% of the detenue were in the age group of 15 to 28 years.”