Mehbooba Mufti Shifted to Her Residence, But Detention Continues

On Tuesday, Omar Abdullah took to Twitter saying that Mufti “must be set free”.

Updated07 Apr 2020, 04:09 PM IST
India
3 min read

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti, presently detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA), has been shifted to her residence, though her detention continues, an official order said on Tuesday, 7 April.

Having spent over eight months in detention at two government facilities that were designated as sub-jails, Mufti reached her home on Tuesday evening as a posse of media personnel, braving rains, made attempts to capture the former chief minister.

Mufti heads the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which was in power in Jammu and Kashmir in alliance with the BJP till June 2018.

"Ms Mufti is home but still booked under PSA. Media wasn't given access to her at all despite waiting for hours. Is GOI scared that she'll articulate her views on illegal abrogation of Article 370? Time doesn't change facts or erase a betrayal etched in memory," Mufti's daughter Iltija posted on her mother's Twitter account.

Iltija said that once the restrictions on her mother are finally lifted, she will approach all stakeholders for a joint strategy to move forward.

"She will also speak to the press about her views on what transpired post 5th August," she tweeted.

Iltija expressed gratitude to the media in Kashmir for their concern and well-wishes. "May I please humbly request that you give the family privacy as we wait for her to come home today. Please remember this isn't a release and the house has been declared as a subsidiary jail," she tweeted.

Iltija also tweeted her mother's appeal to the Centre for releasing all detainees including political leadership jailed in and outside JK immediately.

Political leaders, including Mufti and two other former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, were detained on 5 August last year when the Centre announced its decisions to abrogate the special status of the erstwhile state and divide it into two Union Territories.

Initially, the 60 year old Mufti was taken into preventive custody. Later on 6 February this year, she was slapped with the PSA along with Omar Abdullah, who was released recently. The senior Abdullah had been released early last month.

According to the official order issued by the home department of the Union Territory, "The government hereby orders the change of place of lodgement of Ms Mehbooba Mufti...to subsidiary jail, Fairview, Gupkar Road, Srinagar, with immediate effect."

Fairview is the official residence of Mufti, which is located on the high-security Gupkar Road. Earlier, Mufti was lodged a government guesthouse in Chashma Shahi and a bunglow on Maulana Azad Road near Lal Chowk.

Mufti has been in detention for eight months, ever since Jammu and Kashmir's special status under Article 370 of the Constitution was taken away and the state bifurcated into two Union territories.

Earlier on 24 March, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah was released, as the charges under PSA, slapped on him in February, were revoked.

On Tuesday, National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah demanded that PDP president Mehbooba Mufti be set free, saying merely shifting her home while keeping her under detention was a cop out.

“@MehboobaMufti must be set free. Shifting her home while continuing to keep her detained is a cop out,” Omar tweeted.

Apart from Omar, Jammu and Kashmir People's Conference (JKPC) chief spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu said the continued detention of Mehbooba, JKPC chairman Sajad Lone -- who is under house arrest -- and other mainstream politicians was "authoritarian".

"The continued detention of @JKPC_ Chairman @sajadlone and @jkpdp President @MehboobaMufti and a number of senior mainstream leaders is authoritarian. They've been under detention for more than 8 months now- not allowed access to the media, to their colleagues and their relatives," Mattu wrote on Twitter.

Iltija has moved a habeas corpus petition before the Supreme Court in February challenging her mother's detention. A three-judge bench had issued a notice to the Jammu and Kashmir administration seeking its response on the plea and posted the matter for a hearing on 18 March.

However, the petition was not taken up for hearing due to the coronavirus outbreak. Habeas corpus is a writ seeking production of a person supposed to be in illegal detention before a court.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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Published: 07 Apr 2020, 06:56 AM IST
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