National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah's detention under the stringent Public Safety Act or PSA has been extended by three months. The three-term chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir will continue to remain at his house in Srinagar that has been declared a sub-jail.
The National Conference termed "most unfortunate" and "undemocratic" the extension of Farooq Abdullah's detention.
"It is the most unfortunate thing to happen," National Conference provincial president Devender Singh Rana told PTI today.
"The imposition of PSA on Abdullah is itself a major setback to the mainstream politics of Jammu and Kashmir because he has always stood by the nation and its values," he said.
Farooq Abdullah has been under detention since August 5, when the central government announced the end of special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and split the state into two union territories.
Earlier this month, in a letter, Mr Abdullah criticised the centre for not allowing him to attend the winter session of parliament that concluded yesterday. The letter was shared by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor.
"Thank you for your letter on 21st October 2019 which has been delivered to me today by my magistrate who looks after me while I am in the sub-jail," Mr Abdullah had said in the letter. "It is most unfortunate that they are not able to deliver me my post in time. I am sure this is not the way to treat a senior Member of the Parliament and leader of a political party. We are not criminals," the National Conference chief said.
Under the Public Safety Act, a person can be under detention without trial for up to two years.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also criticised the move on Twitter and called it "unconstitutional":
Farooq Abdullah detention extended by three months under Public Safety Act... This is a very sad state of affairs. In our democratic country this is happening. These are unconstitutional steps— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) December 14, 2019
This is was first time that this law has been used on a mainstream politician, especially an MP and a three-time chief minister. Usually, it has been used to arrest terrorists, separatists or stone-throwers. It was Mr Abdullah's father Sheikh Abdullah who brought the law in 1978 to prevent timber smuggling.
Along with Farooq Abdullah, his son and former chief minister Omar Abdullah, and another former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, whose Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was in an alliance with the BJP, and hundreds of political leaders are under arrest in one of the two newest Union Territories. The other is Ladakh.
On Tuesday, Home Minister Amit Shah said in parliament that the political leaders detained in Jammu and Kashmir will be released by the local administration and there will be "no central interference".
The opposition Congress has been raising in parliament the issue of prolonged political detention in Jammu and Kashmir, alleging that the centre is not freeing Mr Abdullah to stop him from speaking up.