A group of Opposition parties on Monday issued a joint statement demanding the immediate release political detainees in Jammu and Kashmir, especially former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti, Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, PTI reported. They said democratic dissent was being “muzzled” by the “coercive” action of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
The politicians have been under detention since India scrapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5 last year and imposed prohibitory orders. The three former chief ministers have also been booked under the Public Safety Act, which allows a person to be detained without a trial for three to six months.
The Nationalist Congress Party, Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal (Secular), Communist Party of India (Marxist), Rashtriya Janata Dal and former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie endorsed the joint statement, according to NDTV. The Congress, however, was not a part of this.
“Democratic dissent is being muzzled by coercive administrative action, which has threatened the basic ideals of Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity as enshrined in our Constitution,” the statement said. “There is nothing in the past records of these three leaders to lend credence to the Modi government’s false and self-serving claim that they pose a threat to ‘public safety’ in J&K or that they have endangered national interests with their activities.”
The statement pointed out that the BJP had alliance with all three leaders and their parties in the past, adding that their indefinite detention is a “blatant violation of their fundamental rights”.
The Opposition leaders said the detentions had also exposed the government’s “lie” that the situation was normal in Jammu and Kashmir. “There are growing assaults on democratic norms, fundamental rights and civic liberties of citizens,” it added. “As a result, dissent is not only being stifled, but the avenues of raising critical voices are also being systematically muted.”
Other Kashmiri leaders detained under the Public Safety Act include National Conference’s Hilal Lone, Peoples Democratic Party leader Naeem Akhtar and bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal.