Another PDP leader booked under Public Safety Act

Updated on Feb 09, 2020 02:00 AM IST

National Conference leaders Mubarak Gul and Tanveer Sadiq, who were also under detention at the MLA Hostel in Srinagar, were shifted to their homes at the same time to be put under house arrest.

PDP spokesperson Naeem Akhtar
PDP spokesperson Naeem Akhtar
Hindustan Times, Srinagar | ByAshiq Hussain

Srinagar:Senior People’s Democratic Party leader (PDP) and former minister Naeem Akhtar was booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) by the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Saturday, becoming the fifth politician to be detained this week under the stringent law that allows up to two years of detention without trial.

National Conference leaders Mubarak Gul and Tanveer Sadiq, who were also under detention at the MLA Hostel in Srinagar, were shifted to their homes at the same time to be put under house arrest.

Akhtar has been under detention since August 5 last year when the Centre pushed through provisions revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and moved to bifurcate the state into two Union Territories. On Thursday, the administration booked former chief ministers Omar Abdullah of the National Conference (NC), Mehbooba Mufti of the PDP and one each of their party colleagues under the PSA after they spent six months in preventive custody under the Code of Criminal Procedure. Abdullah’s father Farooq had his arrest under the PSA extended for three months in December.

“Naeem Akhtar has been booked under PSA while Gul and Sadiq have been shifted to their homes,” said additional director general of police (ADGP), security, Munir Khan. “Today only these three leaders have been moved out of MLA Hostel.”.

Akhtar had been a member of J&K assembly’s legislative council and also served as education minister and public works minister. He has been an influential leader of the PDP owing to his proximity to party leaders, the late Mufti Mohammad Sayed, and his daughter and current president Mehbooba Mufti.

Akhtar’s daughter Shehryar Khanum said she was shocked at the way her father and other mainstream politicians were being treated in Kashmir. She noted that her father had been a cabinet minister and served as a spokesperson for the PDP’s coalition government with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that collapsed in June 2018 after the latter parted ways with the Kashmiri party.

“ today, if he government of India is thinking that the same person who held on to the idea of mainstream in Kashmir despite its own share of turbulence here, if they are the enemies and they are going to be treated at par with persons whose ideology is different from the idea of India, it is very shocking,” she said.

She said that the central dispensation had made it quite clear in the last couple of days that “mainstream politicians are the enemy in Kashmir”.

“There is a larger message in it, the message is that we don’t care what Kashmiris say, we don’t care how they feel , we don’t care if in the face of things we are suspending basic constitutional rights ,” she said.

Of the two leaders shifted to their homes, Gul is a senior leader of the NC and served as speaker of the J&K Assembly. Sadiq is the NC spokesperson and advisor to former chief minister Omar Abdullah. At least eight leaders are still under detention at MLA Hostel, including bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal.

Akhtar was shifted to the M5 government quarters on Gupkar Road where NC general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar and former PDP vice president Sartaj Madni, who is also the maternal uncle of Mehbooba Mufti, were moved on Thursday after they were booked under the PSA, .

Omar Abdullah is lodged at Hari Niwas, an erstwhile palace, while Mehbooba Mufti is incarcerated in a government building on M.A Road.

On Wednesday afternoon, People’s Conference chairman Sajjad Lone and PDP youth president Waheed-ur- Rehman Parra were released from MLA Hostel.

Relatives of both the leaders claim that they had been kept under house arrest in their homes. A night earlier, Abdul Qayoom Wan, who unsuccessfully contested last year’s parliamentary elections on a PDP ticket from Baramulla, was released from Srinagar Central jail.

On Tuesday evening, former assembly member and PDP leader Ajaz Ahmad Mir and former president of the Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir Shakeel Qalander were released from custody. While Mir had been held at MLA Hostel, Qalandar was detained at the central jail in Srinagar.

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