Several political parties on Friday criticised the invocation of the Public Safety Act to keep several Kashmiri politicians, including two former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, under detention, reported PTI. The reactions came a day after the politicians were booked under the Act as their detention under Section 107 (security for keeping the peace in other cases) of the Indian Penal Code is coming to an end.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist’s) Jammu and Kashmir unit lambasted the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre for the move, describing it as “unfortunate”. “On one hand, the BJP within and outside Parliament is claiming that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is normal, on the other it is resorting to the use of draconian laws against prominent leaders,” said party leader MY Tarigami. “What is the meaning of slapping the PSA on the leaders after six months? They [Centre] are claiming that the situation is normal and improving and are releasing the detained political leaders.”
Tarigami said the authorities were preparing to conduct elections for around 13,000 vacant positions in the local bodies but the PSA does not go with a democratic exercise. “There are already many people in jails or under house arrest, including the three former chief ministers,” he added.
Chief spokesperson of the Congress’ Jammu and Kashmir unit Ravinder Sharma said there was “no justification” for imposition of the Act. He reiterated Tarigami’s opinion that the decision did not match with the normalcy claims. The Mufti-led Peoples Democratic Party called the decision “most condemnable”, and said the Centre was “testing the patience” of Kashmiris.
In a series of tweets, Congress leader P Chidambaram said he was “shocked and devastated” to receive the news. “Detention without charges is the worst abomination in a democracy,” he wrote. “When unjust laws are passed or unjust laws are invoked, what option do the people have than to protest peacefully?”
The former Union minister also criticised the prime minister’s remarks against the anti-Citizenship Act protests. He highlighted the examples of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. “Unjust laws must be opposed through peaceful resistance and civil disobedience,” he said. “That is satyagraha.”
The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by Parliament on December 11 last year, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims, leading to protests against it. At least 29 people have died during the protests with 19 in Uttar Pradesh, six in Assam, two in Karnataka – all ruled by the BJP. Two people were killed in West Bengal last month.