Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram has criticised the centre for extending the detention of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) for three more months. This would make the duration of her detention longer than a year; she was detained for the first time on August 5 last year, the day the centre scrapped special status to Jammu and Kashmir and divided the state into two Union Territories.
“The extension of the detention of Ms Mehbooba Mufti under PSA is an abuse of law and an assault on the Constitutional rights guaranteed to every citizen. How is the 61 year old former chief minister, a protected person under security guard round the clock, a threat to public safety?” Mr Chidambaram tweeted.
“She rightly rejected the offer to release her on conditions which any self-respecting political leader would refuse. One of the reasons given for her detention – the colour of her party’s flag – was laughable,” the Congress leader tweeted.
The move to extend Ms Mufti’s detention under the PSA came on a day when People’s Conference chief Sajad Lone was released from detention just five days short of a year since he was detained over protest against the centre’s move on Jammu and Kashmir.
Ms Mufti was first charged under the Public Safety Act six months ago, and this is the third time that she would be charged. The charges against her in the current phase are expiring on August 5.
“Why should she undertake not to speak against the abrogation of Art 370? Is it not part of the right to free speech? I am one of the Counsel appearing in a case in the SC challenging the abrogation of Art 370. If I speak against Art 370 – as I must – is that a threat to public safety? We must collectively raise our voices and demand ‘free Mehbooba Mufti immediately’,” Mr Chidambaram tweeted.
Why should she undertake not to speak against the abrogation of Art 370? Is it not part of the right to free speech?
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) August 1, 2020
Under the Public Safety Act or PSA, a person can be detained multiple times without any trial. The rights activism group Amnesty International has called PSA a “lawless law”.
Omar Abdullah, who was released from detention in the last week of March, just hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the coronavirus lockdown, had called the extension of Ms Mufti’s extension “unbelievably cruel and retrograde”.