Former IAS officer-turned-politician Shah Faesal on Monday filed a Habeas Corpus writ in Delhi High Court challenging his recent detention at Delhi airport. Fixing August 23 as the next date of hearing, the court has sought a response from the Centre and the J&K government on the petition.
Faesal was prevented from boarding a flight from Delhi to Istanbul last week. He was later taken to Srinagar, held under the Public Safety Act (PSA) and placed under house arrest.
While seeking directions to the authorities to “immediately set him at liberty”, Faesal claimed before a bench of Justice Manmohan and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal that his life was at “risk” and his “illegal detention amounts to abduction”.
Sources said he was detained on the basis of a “perception of threat to public order due to his activities”. The move was based on a report from the J&K administration, they said. “There is a likelihood that political leaders will go abroad and try to foment trouble in the Valley from there,” an official said at that time.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, opposed Faesal’s contention and said a detailed response would be filed
In his petition, Faesal said he was illegally picked up from New Delhi airport when he was on his way to complete his fellowship commitments at Harvard University on the intervening night of August 14-15. After that, he was illegally whisked away to Kashmir against his wishes, the petition said.
“No transit remand was sought in Delhi before illegally taking the petitioner (Faesal) to Srinagar. The petitioner has not been made aware of the charges against him at any point of time, including at the time of his illegal detention. No arrest memos or seizure memos or any other documents were provided to him describing the charges or grounds of his arrest at the time of his illegal custody thereafter,” Faesal’s counsel argued before the court.
The counsel, while referring to the petition, said from the “sequence of events leading up to his illegal detention, it is clear that the petitioner has been specifically targeted and unlawfully detained because of his political, constitutional and democratic stand on the abrogation and not because of his illegal conduct or wrongdoing on his part”.
Before Faesal, several politicians from Jammu and Kashmir including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were also placed under house arrest.
These leaders were placed under house arrest as a “preventive” measure before the Centre announced the decision to revoke special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state into two union territories.
Faesal has been vocal in his criticism of the government’s decision on the removal of special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and its bifurcation.
In an interview to The Indian Express published on August 10, he had said: “I see it as a catastrophic turn in our collective history, a day when everybody is feeling that it is a death knell to our identity, our history, our right to our land, our right to our existence.”
In 2009, Faesal became the first Kashmiri to top the IAS exams. Early this year, he resigned to set up J&K People’s Movement with the aim of joining mainstream politics.