Nearly six months after Omar Abdullah was arrested in Srinagar, a photograph surfaced on social media on Saturday showing the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister sporting a grey beard.
On August 5, the Union government had revoked the special constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two Union Territories. The decision was taken without consulting the erstwhile state’s political leadership.
The night before the announcement, all communication lines were cut off. Omar Abdullah, the leader of the National Conference, posted a series of tweets, before internet snapped.
In the months since then, Abdullah and two other chief ministers – his father Farooq Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti – remain under arrest. Twenty-one other leaders of various parties in Kashmir are still in detention at the MLA hostel. A top United States diplomat asked for their release on Saturday.
Another reminder of the continuing detentions emerged in the form of a purported photograph of Abdullah, which Scroll.in was unable to independently verify. Among the first to post the picture on Twitter was Smita Prakash, the editor of the news agency ANI.
While Prakash cracked a joke about Abdullah’s beard, other reactions were not so benign. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee expressed shock and sadness.
There was widespread condemnation of India’s continuous detention of Kashmiri political leaders.