Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday said former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were detained under the Public Safety Act.
In an exclusive interview to India Today, Shah said: “They [Mufti and Abdullah] are still in detention under the Public Safety Act.” The home minister was first asked if National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah’s claim of being put under house arrest before the invocation of the PSA Act was true. After Shah refuted the allegation, he was asked about the detention of Mufti and Omar Abdullah.
However, police officials in Srinagar denied that Mufti and Omar Abdullah had been booked under the Public Safety Act. “They had been taken into preventive detention under Section 107 [security for keeping the peace in other cases] of the CrPC [Code of Criminal Procedure],” officials told Scroll.in.
On August 5, the Centre had imposed restrictive orders as it scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and split it into Union Territories. Several political leaders, including the three former chief ministers, were placed under house arrest.
On September 16, the Jammu and Kashmir administration said it had invoked the Public Safety Act to keep Farooq Abdullah under detention. Abdullah was booked under the “public order” section of the Public Safety Act, which allows one to be detained for six months without trial.
Shah said that shock among people, after the special status was revoked, was normal as the incident “was fresh”. “If someone tries to instigate, obviously there will be a problem in controlling the situation,” he said.
The Union minister said that fewer than 1,000 people out of 4,000 taken into preventive custody were now in jail, adding that 800 of them were caught during stone-pelting incidents. He also attributed the deaths of 40,000 locals over the years to Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave the state its special status.
“I believe they were killed because of Article 370,” Shah said. “We have removed Article 370, we need time to send word down the line. If someone keeps scratching the wounds, people may get instigated. As a precaution, we have kept them under detention. It is better to take precaution than allow loss of life.”
The home minister also rejected claims that there was a curfew in place in Jammu and Kashmir and said that security forces had not resorted to firing in the last two months. He asserted that the region was gradually moving towards normalcy.
After 72 days of communication networks being snapped, postpaid mobile phone services were restored across all networks in the Kashmir Valley on Monday. Fixed line telephone services were restored in parts of Jammu and Kashmir on August 17, and by September 4, nearly all 50,000 landline connections were restored. Mobile phone services had already been restored in Jammu and Ladakh regions, and in the Kupwara district of Kashmir.
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