October 14, 2020

Mehbooba Mufti released after 14 month’ detention

Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was released late Tuesday night after being detained by the government for nearly 14 months – since it scrapped Article 370 in August – and since being charged under the Public Safety Act (PSA) – a stringent law that allows detention and multiple extensions without trial for up to three months – in February.
“Mehbooba Mufti being released,” Rohit Kansal, J&K Principal Secretary, tweeted at 9.17 pm. The release comes just as a deadline set by the Supreme Court, which had been approached by her daughter Iltija Mufti with a habeas corpus petition challenging her “illegal” detention, was set to expire.
On September 29 the court had questioned the central and J&K governments, asking: “How long can Mehbooba Mufti be kept in custody?” The J&K administration was given two weeks – till October 14 – to explain how long they intended to do so. Mufti’s PSA detention, which was announced on the last day of her six-month detention without charges, had been extended by another three months in July.
Minutes after her release her daughter, Iltija Mufti, who took over her mother’s Twitter account after she was detained, tweeted: “As Ms Mufti’s illegal detention finally comes to an end, I’d like to thank everybody who supported me in these tough times. I owe a debt of gratitude to you all. This is Iltija signing off. May Allah protect you”. “There is a sense of huge relief,” Iltija Mufti told NDTV when asked about relinquishing control of her mother’s social media account, “Twitter is a toxic place. Glad I will not be on it anymore. My mother will finally use her own Twitter handle. It felt abnormal to use hers.” Hundreds of politicians, including Ms Mufti and two other former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar – were detained or arrested as part of a massive clampdown by the centre to quell backlash over its Article 370 decision.
The Abdullahs, also charged under the draconian PSA, were released in March, within days of each other. Omar Abdullah tweeted today, saying he was pleased to hear of Ms Mufti’s release.
“I’m pleased to hear that Mehbooba Mufti sahiba has been released after more than a year in detention. Her continued detention was a travesty & was against the basic tenets of democracy. Welcome out Mehbooba,” he said. Last year the centre placed political leaders under detention (or arrested them), flooded the Kashmir Valley with troops and enforced an internet blockade that lasted for several months.
In November the measures, which were fiercely criticised by opposition leaders, were justified before a parliamentary standing committee; they were a “necessary move” in anticipation of violence in the region, the government said.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla said political leaders like Omar Abdullah and Ms Mufti were confined in view of past “incendiary statements made against the centre”.

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