After nearly ten months in detention, former bureaucrat-turned politician Shah Faesal and two senior members of the People’s Democratic Party — Peer Mansoor Hussain and Sartaj Madani — were released on Wednesday after the Jammu and Kashmir administration revoked the Public Safety Act against them.
Shah Faesal, who started a political outfit – the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement – in March last year, had been under preventive detention since August 2019. He was subsequently booked under the Public Safety Act, 1978, in February 2020. His detention was extended on May 13 for three months. Faesal was being held at Srinagar’s MLA hostel before being transferred from the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre.
The two PDP leaders Peer Mansoor Hussain and Sartaj Madni were also booked under PSA amidst the crackdown on the political leadership in J&K after special status to the erstwhile state was revoked on August 5 last year and split into two Union Territories.
Faesal had quit the Indian Administrative Service in January 2019, terming his resignation “an act of defiance” and stating that there were several “provocations” that led to this decision. “I’m putting across a small act of defiance to remind the central government of its responsibilities towards the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” he had said.
In a tweet, former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah said, “Good to hear @shahfaesal, Peer Mansoor & Sartaj Madani have been released from their unjust PSA detention. Disappointed that @MehboobaMufti, Sagar Sb & Hilal Lone continue to be detained. It’s high time they are set free as well.”
Abdullah also said many others under informal “house arrest” for the last 10 months should also be released. “It’s time the rule of law is applied to all equally and these leaders are allowed to leave their homes without their ‘guards’ locking them inside without cause, justification or any detention order,” Abdullah tweeted.
Tweeting from Mehbooba Mufti’s handle, her daughter Iltija Javed said, “Relieved that arbitrary & illegal detention of Shah Faesal, Sartaj Madni and Peerzada Manzur under PSA has finally been revoked.”
She also pointed out that political detainees, including Sajad Lone, Ali Mohd Sagar, Hilal Lone, Nayeem Akhtar and Waheed Para, and civil society members such as Mian Qayoom were still imprisoned in and outside J&K. “They must be released immediately. Pertinent to mention that barring a few, most political leaders cutting across party lines continue being under house arrest. Their unlawful detention is an aberration of the law,” she said.
Peer Mansoor’s detention was last extended on May 5 while Sartaj Madni’s detention was extended for three months under provisions of the PSA last month. However, party president Mehbooba Mufti, also booked under PSA, is serving her detention at her Gupkar road residence.
Since December 2019, the J&K administration has began revoking detentions under PSA, first for those detained in prisons within J&K and later for those jailed outside the UT. In March, National Conference President Farooq Abdullah and vice-president Omar Abdullah were released from detention after nearly seven months.
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