National Conference (NC) president and Member of Parliament (MP) from Srinagar, Farooq Abdullah, will be confined to a single room in his multi-storey house located on Srinagar’s high-profile Gupkar Road, hours after Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, approved his detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA).
Senior officials in the government told The Hindu that the government had decided to designate the residence of the three-time chief minister as a subsidiary jail “to implement the jail manual and provide all the rights of a prisoner”, which include access to legal aid.
With the PSA slapped on Dr. Abdullah to formalise his arrest after 43 days of house detention, the police also started a process to seal all other rooms in his residence and evict the family cook, who had been with him during his house detention. Only one room, with a bathroom, will be spared for Dr. Abdullah and “his meetings with anyone from outside will be restricted and only those with a legal order will be allowed”.
The controversial Act, which was termed as a “lawless law” by the rights group Amnesty International India, was introduced by Dr. Abdullah’s father Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah in 1975 to contain rampant timber smuggling in the State. Of late, it was slapped on most senior separatist leaders and protesters to detain them for a prolonged period. A person booked under the PSA can be held without a trial for three months.
The Act’s provisions were amended on several occasions by the NC government in the past. NC vice president Omar Abdullah, in his public speeches earlier this year, had promised to “repeal the PSA” in case his party came to power.
All lanes leading to Gupkar Road were sealed for vehicular movement on Monday. The house of Dr. Abdullah’s daughter Safiya Khan, who lives next to her father, was conspicuous with a black flag hoisted in protest atop the gate and the NC flag at the house’s entrance.
Hinna Abdullah, another daughter, appealed to the government to allow Ms. Khan to visit him for providing medication. “Please do not believe any reports about Dr. Abdullah being allowed to have visitors,” she said in a statement. “Even my sister, who lives next door, is not able to see him. And she is the one who helps him with all his daily medication needs. He is 83 years old. At least allow his daughter to see him,” Ms. Abdullah urged.
PSA belies Centre’s claim on normalcy: NC
NC MPs, former judge Hasnain Masoodi and Akbar Lone, condemned the government’s move and said J&K was under “Martial Law”.
“The principles of democracy and rule of law have been suspended in J&K. The decision to slap PSA on Dr. Abdullah belies the Centre’s claims that people of J&K have accepted the revocation of Article 370 and 35A and situation in the State was normal,” the MPs said in a joint statement.
They ásserted that the ‘height of deceit and lies’ could be gauged from the fact that Union home minister Amit Shah told the Parliament that the NC leader was not at all detained and chose to stay home.
“There is a stark misinformation campaign launched by the Centre and the Governor’s administration. How can a three-time chief minister and a sitting MP pose any threat? The BJP government is resorting to undemocratic measures to prove their case. Such moves will have dire consequences. This will not cow down the NC, which will continue with its stuggle,” they said.