Farooq Abdullah, 81, Detained Under Tough Public Safety Act

Farooq Abdullah, 81, Detained Under Tough Public Safety Act
New Delhi: 

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah was on Monday charged under the Public Safety Act (PSA), a stringent law that enables detention without trial for two years. The senior politician had so far been under "unofficial" house arrest in Srinagar, where hundreds of politicians have been detained or arrested as part of the centre's attempts to prevent trouble over its decision to end special status to Jammu and Kashmir last month.

The tougher law was applied to the 81-year-old veteran on a day the Supreme Court sent notice to the centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration on a petition seeking Mr Abdullah's release so he could attend an event in Chennai.

The petitioner is Tamil Nadu's MDMK leader Vaiko, a close friend of Mr Abdullah for four decades.

Mr Vaiko requested the National Conference leader's release from "illegal detention" so he can attend a mega MDMK event to mark the birth anniversary of CN Annadurai, the first chief minister of Tamil Nadu. Vaiko said Mr Abdullah had been kept under "illegal detention without any authority of law" in violation of his constitutional rights.

"The actions of the respondents (government) are completely illegal and arbitrary and violative of the right to protection of life and personal liberty, right to protection from arrest and detention and also against right to free speech and expression which is the cornerstone of a democratic nation," the Tamil Nadu leader said.

The centre objected to the petition saying Mr Vaiko "is not Farooq Abdullah's relative" and his request for the release of the Jammu and Kashmir leader was "abuse of the process of law".

On August 6, Home Minister Amit Shah had said in parliament that Mr Abdullah, whose son Omar Abdullah has also been in custody in a guest house near Srinagar, had not been detained or arrested. When NCP leader Supriya Sule pointed to Mr Abdullah's absence in the Lok Sabha, Mr Shah had said, "He has neither been detained nor arrested. He is at home by his own will."

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SA Bobde and SA Nazeer issued notice to the centre and the state and said the case would be taken up next on September 30.

Some 400 politicians including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have been under arrest since the government's decisions on Kashmir, which includes splitting the state into two union territories.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, another former Chief Minister, strongly condemned the PSA law - usually invoked against terrorists, separatists and stone-throwers in Jammu and Kashmir - being used against Mr Abdullah. This is the first time that the law has been slapped on a mainstream politician, especially an MP.

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