Expressing shock at the government’s decision to invoke the Public Safety Act (PSA) against former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah, National Conference MP Hasnain Masoodi on Monday asked how can a man who had the “guts to come to J&K, assemble a few people and contest the elections” in 1996, when large parts of the state were still in the throes of militancy, be a threat to peace.
Masoodi pointed out that then Prime Minister A B Vajpayee had deputed Farooq to put forth India’s stand in the UN Commission on Human Rights at Geneva. “How can anyone believe he can be taken as a threat to public order or security of the state?” Masoodi said while speaking with The Indian Express in Srinagar.
Senior NC leader Mohammad Akbar Lone said that the party would take a legal course to challenge Farooq Abdullah’s detention under PSA. “They have no justification to do that, but if they have booked him under the PSA, then what can we do? We can only approach the courts. We will take constitutional and legal recourse,” Lone said in Srinagar.
Masoodi told The Indian Express: “See how many threats he braved (over the years)… he lost thousands of cadres simply for the reason that they were believed to side with India. It was not a small job when he decided in 1996, in that atmosphere (of militancy) to contest the elections. He stood for India, and see what they (government) have done today.”
Masoodi said he fails to comprehend the grounds of detention under the stringent PSA because the NC leader has all along demanded peace. “On August 4, when people in the Valley were in panic because of deployment of forces, there was an all-party meet. In conclusion, he (Farooq) reiterated three times the need to maintain peace. Ever since he is under detention, he has not made any statement which can be interpreted as a threat to public peace.”
Masoodi, who recently met Farooq Abdullah and party vice-president Omar Abdullah with the court’s permission, said the meeting was “essentially to know about their health” and said the court asked them “not to share anything with the media about the meeting.”