"I Could Not Recognise Omar...": Mamata Banerjee Reacts To Viral Photo

Omar Abdullah is one of several Kashmiri politicians detained or placed under house arrest since the centre's controversial decision on Article 370 in August last year

'I Could Not Recognise Omar...': Mamata Banerjee Reacts To Viral Photo

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah has been detained since August 5

Kolkata:

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah found mention on Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's Twitter timeline this evening, after she posted what many believe is a current photograph of the National Conference leader. The post was accompanied by a message: "Am feeling sad... unfortunate that this is happening in our democratic country. When will this end?"

"I could not recognise Omar in this picture," Ms Banerjee added, posting an image of a man in winter clothes and sporting a medium-length greyish-white beard.

Omar Abdullah is one of several Kashmiri politicians have been detained or placed under house arrest since the centre's controversial decision on Article 370 in August last year.

Ms Banerjee's Trinamool Congress was among the fiercest opponents of the move, with Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien accusing the BJP-led centre of "throwing the Constitution into the dustbin".

The picture which is believed to be that of Mr Abdullah also drew comment from the Twitter account that belongs to PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, who is also under detention, but is being operated by her daughter, Iltija Mujti.

"To those treating OmarAbdullah's illegal & prolonged detention with nonchalance, would serve you well to remember he's been in solitary confinement away from family & loved ones since 6 months. Physical appearances & tweeting are the least of his concerns," the tweet read.

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury also tweeted, saying the photo "points to a very disturbing fact about the central government".

"This picture points to a very disturbing fact about the central government. A former CM, who is also a former Union Minister, has been detained for months without any charge," Mr Yechury wrote.

Jammu and Kashmir faced a number of restrictions in the months after the withdrawal of special status under Article 370.

These have included the banning of marches and rallies, the deployment of large numbers of soldiers and the blocking of mobile and internet services (starting today this has been partially restored), something the Supreme Court said violated part of the fundamental right to freedom of speech.

Hundreds of key political leaders were also detained, many without charge, including Mr Abdullah and two other former Chief Ministers - his 83-year-old father and party leader Farooq Abdullah (who has been charged under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA), and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti.

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Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has been detained since early August

Omar Abdullah is under "precautionary" confinement at Hari Niwas in Srinagar, while his father is being held at his residence in the city. In November Ms Mufti was moved from the Chashme Shahi resort in Srinagar to government accommodation in view of the winter.

The government, which has come under fire from opposition parties for the detention of senior political leaders, has said these restrictions are intended to maintain order and prevent terror attacks.

On Friday the United States, whose envoy was one of 15 allowed to make a tightly-supervised visit of J&K, joined the opposition in urging the release of "political leaders detained without charge".

Earlier this week India dropped 10 places in the Democracy Index 2019 - a list of the most and least democratic countries in the world released by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

In its report the EIU cited the situation in J&K and the "democratic regression (in) erosion of civil liberties" as major reasons in awarding the country an all-time low score.

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