J&K govt slaps Public Safety Act on Farooq Abdullah

J&K govt slaps Public Safety Act on Farooq Abdullah

National Conference president and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah. AFP file photo

Regional National Conference (NC) president and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah was charged under Public Safety Act (PSA) on Monday on a day Supreme Court took up a petition against his 'illegal detention.'

Sources said Abdullah the PSA - a stringent law that enables detention without trial for two years - was slapped on 81-year-old politician on Sunday evening. "The PSA dossier of the NC leader was signed by deputy commissioner Srinagar and he has been charged with disturbing public order," they said.

Since August 5 when the Center scrapped special status of J&K under Article 370 and bifurcated the state into two union territories, Abdullah, also a member parliament (MP), has been under 'unofficial' house arrest at his home in Srinagar, which will now be designated as 'jail.'

This is for the first time that a sitting MP and a former CM has been detained under the PSA, a law which was brought in the state by Abdullah's father and the NC founder late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah to curb timber smuggling in 1978. Usually, the law has been used to arrest militants, separatists and stone-pelters.

The PSA on Abdullah was slapped as the Supreme Court asked the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration to respond to a plea seeking that the former chief minister be produced before a court.

The petition was filed by Tamil Nadu’s MDMK leader Vaiko, seeking Abdullah’s release so he could attend an event in Chennai. Vaiko is said to be a close friend of Abdullah for four decades.

Abdullah’s son and former chief minister Omar Abdullah and another former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti are among dozens of high profile politicians in Kashmir, who are undergoing detention since August 5 as part of the centre's attempt to prevent trouble over its decision to scrap Article 370.

A senior official said the decision to slap PSA on Abdullah was taken by the government after the back-channel attempts to persuade NC top leadership not to hold any protests against the Center's decision about abrogation of Article 370, failed.

"There is every likelihood that NC and the PDP led by Mehbooba Mufti will mobilise people against the Center's decision, if they are released. The government doesn't want to take any chances as situation has remained under control after their detention on August 5," he said.

On August 6, when NCP leader Supriya Sule had pointed to Abdullah's absence in the Lok Sabha, Home Minister Amit Shah had said, "He has neither been detained nor arrested. He is at home by his own will."