‘A Different World Today’: Omar Abdullah Released From Detention
Omar Abdullah also changed his Twitter bio to ‘former PSA Political detinue.’
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah was released on Tuesday, 24 March, after nearly eight months of detention, as charges under the Public Safety Act (PSA), slapped on him in February, were revoked.
After his release order was issued, he left the makeshift detention centre for his home in Srinagar.
The former chief minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir also took to Twitter, saying, “It’s a very different world today to the one that existed on 5 August 2019.”
Thanks Colleagues, Lawyers and Family; Addresses COVID-19 Pandemic
Abdullah tweeted his thanks to his party colleagues "for staying united and staying strong." He also changed his Twitter bio to 'former PSA Political detinue.'
"We have a long & difficult road ahead of us but together we will ensure J&K sees better days," he said.
He also thanked his legal teams and his sister, Sara, who had filed the petition to free him, saying that he owed them a huge debt of gratitude.
He also addressed the COVID-19 pandemic, calling it "the fight of our lives." He ended his tweeting spree on a light note, saying, "If anyone wants tips on surviving quarantine or a lock down I have months of experience at my disposal, perhaps a blog is in order."
‘Release All Detained Leaders’
While speaking to the media on Tuesday, he referred to the bifurcation of J&K into two Union Territories as well as the coronavirus outbreak. "The politics and situation of this state, what happened on 5 August (last year), I will talk about it in detail, but first, let us get rid of coronavirus, save ourselves and our families and friends. And then all those detained, be it within the state or outside it, I want the Centre to have mercy on them, bring them home and release them," Omar told reporters, as per PTI.
He said all the detained leaders, including PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, should be released in view of the situation arising out of the coronavirus scare, saying that “in these difficult times, they should be brought back to their families.”
"The hardships that the people faced. Our children couldn't go to schools for many months, shopkeepers didn't have an earning for months. People associated with hotels, taxis, houseboat, shikara and factories had to face difficulties. I was detained at one place, but the difficulties the people here faced, they were kept at their homes, I had thought that I will talk a lot about it, but today I realise that we are fighting a huge war – the war of life and death. Unfortunately, we have gathered here against the government's directions. We were told that social distancing should be followed, that we should take precautions to contain the spread of this disease. However, what lesson will we give to the people when we ourselves are not ready to follow it," he said.
He said people must follow the government orders of social distancing and precautions to fight coronavirus. "Be it Article 370 or 35A or UT or bifurcation of the state, I will talk to you in detail once the current situation passes," he added. However, Omar appealed to the Centre to lift restrictions on the high-speed mobile internet in the Union Territory, PTI reported.
Abdullah, who turned 50 on 10 March, had spent 232 days in custody since the government announced abrogation of the special status of the erstwhile state on 5 August last year.
The National Conference leader was initially detained under preventive custody and later slapped with the PSA on 5 February.
His release comes days after his father, Farooq Abdullah, was also released from detention. Farooq had also been in detention under the PSA since September 2019, following his initial detention under the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Omar had been detained under the PSA to prevent him from being a ‘threat to public order’. This meant he could be detained for up to one year without any charges being framed against him.
Abdullah’s sister, Sara Abdullah Pilot, had filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court challenging his detention under the PSA on 13 February.
When the bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra last heard the matter on 18 March, they had asked the government to clarify its position on Abdullah's release by the next week.
The petition had alleged that Abdullah's detention under the PSA was "malicious, mala fide, vexatious and suffers from manifest non-application of mind".
Soon after he had been placed in detention under the PSA, controversy had erupted over the dossier used to justify this, which portrayed his ability to get J&K to come out and vote as a threat to public order.
(With inputs from PTI.)
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