The National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Sunday (March 15) appealed to all political leaders in the erstwhile state to unite in appealing to the Centre for bringing back all detainees lodged in jails outside the union territory on “humanitarian” grounds.
A 15-member delegation of the NC, led by its provincial president Devender Singh Rana, will meet party chief Farooq Abdullah in Srinagar on Sunday.
In his first statement after being released on Friday, the 82-year-old leader, who is at present a Lok Sabha member, said, “Before we allow politics to divide us, I appeal to all political leaders in the state to unite behind the call to the union government to bring back all detainees from Jammu and Kashmir from prisons outside the state pending their release.”
“While we would like to see them all released as soon as possible, pending that they should be shifted to J&K. This is a humanitarian demand and I hope others will join me in placing this demand in front of the government of India,” he said.
Abdullah said while he advocated for a “free and frank exchange” of political views in order to take stock of the “momentous changes” that Jammu and Kashmir has seen since August 5 last year, “we are still some way away from an environment where such political discourse will be possible. This is especially so considering the number of people detained in August last year who remain in jails outside J-K.”
The veteran politician, said, “I was detained at home and my family had access to me. Yesterday, when I went to meet my son Omar, also detained under the PSA, I had to travel a kilometre from my home to be able to see him,” he said.
Abdullah said, however, for the families of most of the detainees meeting their loved ones is not so easy. “Their loved ones have been detained in jails spread across a number of states. They get two visits a month for which they have to spend large amounts of money they can ill afford travelling to and staying in the vicinity of these prisons,” the National Conference chief said.
Abdullah said the already onerous financial burden is made worse by the health risk they now face because of novel coronavirus. “At a time when people are being advised not to travel, these families are being forced to put their lives at risk in order to meet their loved ones for a few short but very precious hours,” he said.
Abdullah was released from home detention on Friday after the government revoked the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) against the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister.