In a clear demonstration of its tough intent, the Union Territory administration on Thursday invoked the Public Safety Act (PSA) to extend the detention of former CMs Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti along with NC general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar and senior PDP functionary Sartaj Madani.
The move came amid strong demands from the opposition for the freeing of the former CMs. Highly placed sources said Srinagar deputy commissioner and district magistrate Shahid Iqbal Chowdhary signed the police dossiers on Omar and Mehbooba as part of the procedure to detain them for another three months under the PSA. In August, the same law had been invoked to put Omar’s father Farooq Abdullah, also a former CM, under house arrest in his private Gupkar Road residence.
Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah have been detained since 5 August when the Indian government stripped Kashmir of its partial autonomy. The controversial Public Safety Act (PSA) allows detention without charge for up to two years.
The two leaders were set to be released on Thursday.They have not been heard from since they were placed under house arrest. Ms Mufti’s daughter, who is operating her Twitter account, hit out at the “autocratic” move. There has been no word from Mr Abdullah yet. Critics of the PSA have called it a draconian law.
The government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is believed to have detained thousands of people including activists, local politicians and businessmen in the days since it revoked the region’s special status. Many have been shifted to jails in cities outside the region.
Sources in Ms Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) told the BBC that the BJP is trying to “criminalise mainstream politicians”.
“This is not going to help them or the situation in Kashmir,” the source said. “How long can you suppress the people of Kashmir? They’re creating a pressure cooker-like situation.”