- Farooq Abdullah, 83, was placed under detention on August 5
- First time a mainstream politician was charged with PSA
- Public Safety Act enables detention without trial for up to two years
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, released today after over seven months in house arrest, said: "Today I don't have words, the way I feel today, I am free..." But he added that this freedom would not be complete unless all the leaders in detention were freed.
The Lok Sabha MP was detained under the Public Safety Act or PSA, a stringent law that allows detention for up to two years without trial.
"I will not speak on political matters until everyone else is released," said the 83-year-old politician, who emerged in all-black from his home in Srinagar.
"I hope my people will be free. The people of this state will be free. Let us pray to god that we get true freedom for which we have been trying for so long."
Farooq Abdullah was detained along with several leaders including his son Omar Abdullah and PDP's Mehbooba Mufti - also former chief ministers - on August 5, when the government ended special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and imposed massive security restrictions and a communication lockdown.
In September, he was charged under the PSA with "disturbing public order", which means three-month detention.
This was the first time that the PSA, used against terrorists, separatists or stone-throwers, was used on a mainstream politician, especially an MP and a three-time Chief Minister.
His detention was extended after three months and today was the last day of the extended custody.
Days after the Article 370 move, Mr Abdullah had hit out at the government and also accused Home Minister Amit Shah of lying in parliament about him not being detained. "How do you think one would feel when your body is being carved, the body that stood together in all odds, fought every evil unitedly... They divided regions, will they divide hearts too? Will they divide Hindus and Muslims? I thought my India was for all, everyone who believes in secular, unity," the National Conference leader had said, breaking down while speaking to NDTV on August 6.
That was the last he was heard in public before being placed under house arrest.
"My father is a free man again," tweeted his daughter Safia Abdullah Khan.
Days ago, eight opposition parties sent a joint resolution to the BJP-led government, demanding the immediate release of all political detainees in Kashmir. Under the Narendra Modi government, "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 resolution read.
"I am grateful to parliamentary members who spoke for my freedom in parliament. I spoke to everyone. I hope one of these days I will be able to go to parliament in Delhi and speak for you and people of the state," said Mr Abdullah.