- He was granted bail in a money-laundering case on Wednesday
- "75 lakh people are being denied freedom in Kashmir as I speak," he said
- P Chidambaram is visiting Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday said that while he's "happy to breath the air of freedom" after being in prison for more than three months, the people of Kashmir are being denied freedom.
The former Union Minister is visiting Chennai days after he was granted bail in the INX Media case. "In several parts of the nation, freedom is being snatched away and voices of freedom are being choked. You should not forget it at all. I'm happy to breathe the air of freedom but 75 lakh people are being denied freedom in Kashmir valley as I speak," he told reporters at the Chennai airport.
Mr Chidambaram, in his first press conference after his release, had referred to the centre's move to strip the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir of its special status under Article 370, and dividing it into two union territories. While several restrictions have been eased, hundreds of Jammu and Kashmir political leaders including former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, are still under house arrest.
"Freedom cannot be separated, yours is mine and mine is yours and if I do not protect your freedom, you cannot protect mine," he said. The Congress leader was arrested by the CBI on August 21, and on October 16, taken into Enforcement Directorate custody. He is being investigated for allegations that as Finance Minister of the country in 2007, he facilitated infusion of foreign funds into the company INX Media.
"This retrograde government is heading towards fascism that denies freedom. We've got to be cautious," he said on Saturday. Praising his home state Tamil Nadu for its traditional opposition to the BJP, he said: "The entire country ought to be cautious like Tamil Nadu. The day the entire country displays the caution of South India is the day we would have freedom." With the exception of Karnataka, the BJP has struggled to make inroad in South India.
Mr Chidambaram was released from the Delhi's Tihar Jail on Wednesday and since made multiple statements criticizing the government on issues ranging from the state of the economy to women's safety. "They attempt to destroy my determination. They can never do it," he said.
The Supreme Court, while granting bail to Mr Chidambaram, restrained him from speaking to the press or making public statements on the alleged money laundering case.
"I cannot comment on the case. I am going to obey the Supreme Court's order," Mr Chidambaram had said soon after walking out of prison. The BJP, however, has accused the Congress leader of violating his bail condition by claiming that his "conscience and record as a minister" were clear.