Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter Iltija reveals ‘PSA threat’
Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter Iltija on Tuesday said the government had threatened to book Kashmir’s jailed political leaders under the draconian Public Safety Act, which allows individuals to be held for two years without trial, if they challenged their detention in courts.
Dozens of leaders from the pro-India camp, including former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba, are under arrest but have mysteriously not gone to court so far. The only exception was IAS topper-turned-politician Shah Faesal, who challenged his detention in the Supreme Court but later withdrew the petition.
Farooq was under house arrest after the Centre announced on August 5 that it was stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and statehood, but was slapped with the PSA last month after Tamil Nadu’s MDMK leader Vaiko approached the Supreme Court to seek his release. Vaiko is said to be a close friend of Farooq.
Iltija made the allegation on Twitter on Tuesday.
“As GoIs facade of normalcy in Kashmir begins to crumble, I’d like to throw light on some facts. 1) Political detainees haven’t challenged their detention because they’ve been threatened with PSA if they approach the courts,” Iltija tweeted from the official handle of her mother and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba.
Iltija operates her mother’s account with “due authorisation” after the former chief minister was arrested.
Farooq is the only politician from the pro-India camp arrested under the PSA during the clampdown. He was booked hours before Vaiko’s petition was listed for hearing in the Supreme Court.
Government spokesman Rohit Kansal could not be reached for a response. He did not take a call from the officially allotted phone for mediapersons, the only such facility available to journalists in Kashmir under the communication blockade.
The son of a jailed politician, who asked not to be named, said they had not approached the courts fearing victimisation. “If we approach court, my father can face prolonged detention and could be taken to normal jails,” he said. His father is among around three dozen VIPs lodged at Centaur hotel, which has been converted into a sub-jail.
Iltija wrote: “The authorities are also blackmailing them to sign ‘bonds’ under which a gag order will be imposed & political activities will be banned. Odd that people in power get away by calling Muslims ‘termites’ but Kashmiris don’t even have the right to free speech & expression.”
The daughter of the PDP leader demanded that the lockdown end. “Curfews can be imposed on streets but certainly not on thoughts and most importantly sentiments. The human cost of this brutal siege has been catastrophic and must end,” she wrote.
On Monday, a group of PDP leaders from Jammu cancelled their visit to meet Mehbooba, claiming it would give the administration an opportunity to portray that everything was normal.