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In PDP leader’s PSA file: Referred to Geelani book, criticised Amit Shah

Naeem Akhtar, a close aide of former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, is among those detained since August 5 last year, following the Centre’s decision to revoke J&K’s special status under Article 370.

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar |
Updated: February 12, 2020 7:19:38 am
article 35a, what is article 35a, arun jaitley, arun jaitley on article 35A, arun jaitley on J&K, PDP, Naeem Akhtar, J&K news Senior PDP leader and former J-K minister Naeem Akhtar. (Express file photo)

ADVISING PEOPLE to read Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani’s autobiography to inspire them to “never give up the dream of education” and criticising the then BJP president Amit Shah’s speech are among the reasons cited by the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) administration for invoking the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) against senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar.

In September 2016, when schools in the Valley had been shut for almost three months because of curfews and calls for shutdown by separatists, Akhtar, who was then the state education minister, had said at a teachers’ conference: “Everyone should read his (Geelani’s) book (Wular Kinaray), wherein he has documented his struggle right from early childhood. Despite immense hardship, he never gave up his dream of education, and his best days were spent as a teacher… Similarly, Mirwaiz (Umar Farooq) too overcame his personal struggle and completed his Ph.D. as an accomplished scholar. He never stopped the journey of education, come what may.”

His statement has now been cited by the J&K Police in its PSA dossier. “His (Akhtar’s) leaning towards radical elements can be gathered from this statement dated 27/09/2016 in which he, as an education minister, advised people to read Geelani’s book, Wular Kinaray,” it says.

READ: Omar Abdullah’s sister Sara Pilot moves Supreme Court against his detention under PSA

The police dossier also makes a reference to Akhtar’s statement against the then BJP president Amit Shah. “On 09/01/2019, he termed BJP president Amit Shah’s West Bengal speech as an open call for a Hindu Rashtra, and said the saffron party chief has challenged the very idea of India. He further said that BJP is setting up a dangerous game for electoral gains in the country and is playing a communal hatred card (as a) last resort to win elections,” it says.

Addressing a public rally in West Bengal, Shah had said the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill would grant citizenship to Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh refugees.

Reacting to his statement, Akhtar had said: “This is nothing but an open call for a Hindu Rashtra. CAB in itself is laying the foundation of a Hindu Rashtra and exclusion of Muslims and Christians. What Amit Shah has said is communal poison and this is a moment of challenge for right thinking Indians who still believe in the idea of India… What Amit Shah has said negates the essence, letter and spirit of the Constitution of India… Unfortunately, BJP has only one goal, and that is to win elections at whatever cost. The real issues facing the country, including the problems of J&K, besides joblessness, agrarian crisis, have been thrown into cold storage.”

Akhtar, a close aide of former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, is among those detained since August 5 last year, following the Centre’s decision to revoke J&K’s special status under Article 370. He was booked under PSA last week, a day after PSA was invoked against Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

As reported by The Indian Express, Omar Abdullah’s ability to “convince his electorate to vote in huge numbers” and Mehbooba Mufti being “referred (to) as ‘Daddy’s girl’ and ‘Kota Rani'” for “her dangerous and insidious machinations and usurping profile and nature” are among the reasons cited in the PSA dossiers against them.

The dossier on Akhtar includes some statements that he made when he was a minister in the PDP-BJP coalition government in the state. “The statements of the subject are indicative of the fact that he is bent upon not allowing public order to return and disturb(ing) public peace, e,g on 30/06/2015, subject stated that the Article (370) is non-negotiable and J&K’s special status is a settled issue,” it says.

“On 11/03/2019, he slammed the Government of India on summoning Mirwaiz Omer Farooq to New Delhi by NIA, alleging tactics aimed at hurting the sentiments of lakhs of Muslims in Kashmir,” it adds.

Accusing Akhtar of trying to disturb the peace in J&K over the Centre’s decision on Article 370, the dossier says: “Reports collected from discreet sources reveal that the subject is reported to have stressed to general youth to continue the unlawful activities… arousing anti-India sentiment in them… He is further reported to have instigated them to strengthen political network and to remain in a state of preparedness for launch of fresh agitation for abrogation of Article 370 and 35A by the Union government… The subject is believed to have discussed some new strategy with his colleagues and party cadres regarding the designs to disturb public order during the coming days.”

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