The Supreme Court did not hear Sara Pilot’s petition challenging the detention of her brother, Omar Abdullah, under the Public Safety Act. It will hear the plea on 17 March now. J&K’s top politicians, including Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been under detention for seven months since Article 370 was diluted. The social media ban in J&K was lifted Wednesday.
ThePrint asks: Why are Kashmiri politicians still in detention when other restrictions have been lifted?
Modi govt should release J&K’s politicians with assurance that they won’t make provocative speeches
Aditya Raj Kaul
Seven months since Article 370 was diluted, the removal of the ban on social media brings immense hope for the common people. The ban, put in place for security reasons, drew flak even from the Western media.
The next step should be to release the remaining political leaders so that free and fair elections could be held and the democratic process can be restored. The release should come with an assurance from J&K’s political leaders that they won’t make provocative speeches. After decades of turmoil, Jammu and Kashmir is finally looking at a spring of hope without street violence.
While several challenges remain, J&K’s politicians need to focus on development, transparency and peace. There needs to be a policy audit of the last 30 years to fix responsibility and figure out why the Indian state failed in J&K.
Politicians need to get rid of this notion of a ‘special status’ for Jammu & Kashmir, which should get equal rights as the rest of the country and not be treated differently with any special packages or laws. It is up to Kashmir’s politicians to decide how history should judge them in the years to come.
Omar Abdullah’s reluctance to endorse Article 370 move may have led Modi govt to keep J&K leaders out of public life
Writer and columnist
The nullification of Article 370 has resulted in a politically tectonic and constitutionally untenable change in the political status of Jammu and Kashmir. That change has not only bulldozed the moral and legal terms of engagement between the Union of India and Jammu and Kashmir in the post-1947 period but has also put political parties such as the National Conference, the PDP, the People’s Conference and People’s Movement and leaders such as Omar Abdullah in a tricky situation.
On the one hand, the Abdullah family has been treated with disdain by large sections of the Kashmiri population for its perceived inability to safeguard J&K’s political autonomy and, on the other hand, the successive governments in Delhi have made their position even more suspect in the eyes of their primary political constituencies.
The Modi government seems to be expecting Omar Abdullah and other important J&K leaders to reconcile with and, even, endorse the dilution of Article 370 and the altered status of J&K. But the question is, what has a political leader like him to offer to the people of J&K?
It is possible that Omar’s reluctance to endorse the Modi government’s decision of 5 August made it want to pressure him and keep him and other leaders such as Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Sajjad Lone and Shah Faesal out of public life.
But it is a foregone conclusion that this situation is unsustainable, and sooner or later, Delhi will have to talk to these leaders on terms that will be acceptable to the people of J&K.
Detentions are another move of political disempowerment that will lead Kashmir into a troublesome future
Associate Fellow, ORF
Kashmir’s politicians are still under detention because of political vendetta. The Narendra Modi government seems to be really offended by the statements that some of these leaders have made in the recent months, including personal criticism of the home minister and the prime minister.
Media reports have said that the decision to release the detainees lies with the ‘political leadership’ and it isn’t a security call.
The other reason is that the Modi government wants to impose a new political mainstream in Jammu and Kashmir. Former J&K finance minister Altaf Bukhari is reportedly going to launch a new political party. The government wants to give Bukhari an open field where he can take over the political space left vacant since the detention of National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party leaders.
The other thing to look at is the effects of these detentions. There is no political activity in J&K right now, so democracy remains suspended. The Modi government wants leaders to engage in politics on the terms and conditions set by the BJP. Farooq Abdullah, an elected MP, has not been able to attend Parliament — what does it say about the Indian democracy?
The government wants to end the political careers of the Abdullahs and the Muftis. It will be wise to let the people of Kashmir decide these leaders’ political future. Detentions of political leaders such as Sheikh Abdullah in the Valley have had disastrous consequences in the past. We are witnessing another move of political disempowerment that will lead us into a troublesome future.
Modi govt must convince people of J&K why it has detained leaders who were a link between Delhi and Kashmir
Noor Ahmed Baba
Retired professor, Central University of Kashmir
I think it’s the people in Delhi closer to the corridors of power who should answer this question. For us and any common person in Kashmir, things look very strange. These are the leaders, the ones who have been detained, who were a bridge between Kashmir and Delhi and who also represented India internationally.
Omar Abdullah represented India in the world forum when he was the Minister of State for External Affairs during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. His father and J&K former chief minister Farooq Abdullah also represented India at different levels. He was a part of the Vajpayee-led delegation at the United Nations.
Despite this, the present government in Delhi has put these politicians behind bars and slapped the PSA on them, which was originally meant for criminals. This needs explanation. The reasons the government have given don’t seem to be really convincing. Now, it is the duty of the judiciary to protect the fundamental rights of people.
For us to understand the political intricacies in Delhi is more difficult because of our insufficient access to political developments outside J&K. The government needs to convince the people of Jammu and Kashmir about the genuineness of its actions.
By Unnati Sharma, journalist at ThePrint
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