The fundamental rights of the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir have been suspended since 2019, and the Union government’s “iron-fisted policy” is being justified in the name of national security, Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti said in a letter to Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud on Saturday.

The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister wrote the letter to express her “deep sense of concern” about the prevailing situation in the Union territory and the country.

“Since 2019, the fundamental rights of every resident of J&K have been suspended arbitrarily and the constitutional guarantees given at the time of J&K’s accession were suddenly and unconstitutionally abrogated,” she added.

On August 5, 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status which was given when the princely state acceded to India in 1947. After the abrogation, the erstwhile state was split into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

The PDP and the National Conference have described the August 5 move as unconstitutional and have challenged it in the Supreme Court.

In its letter, Mufti also claimed that the trust deficit and alienation of the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir have only widened since 2019. “Passports being a fundamental right are impounded with full impunity,” she said. “Journalists are being jailed and even prevented from flying out of country.”

The former chief minister mentioned the imprisonment of journalists Fahad Shah and Sajad Gul under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act.

Mufti said that the judiciary is the only “ember of hope” in these circumstances. “However, it saddens me to say that so far, our experience with the judiciary has not inspired much confidence,” she added.

The PDP chief said that bail has become the exception rather than the norm in cases such as the ones involving activists and journalists such as Stan Swamy, Sudha Bharadwaj, Siddique Kappan and Umar Khalid.

“A senior citizen like Stan Swamy died as a prisoner begging for bare necessities like a sipper and a straw,” she said.

Mufti also said that Chief Justice DY Chandrachud’s recent remarks on the inability of lower courts to grant bail should have been adopted as a directive instead of being “consigned to a single column story” in a newspaper.

“The fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution and guaranteed to all Indian citizens are being brazenly impinged upon,” she said. “Unfortunately, it is these basic rights that have now become luxuries and entitlements bestowed upon only those select citizens who toe the Government’s line on political, social and religious matters.”

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