Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, under detention since August 5 last year, has been booked under the stringent Public Safety Act for another three months. The move comes on a day when People’s Conference chief Sajad Lone was released from detention just five days short of a year since he was detained over protest against the centre’s move to scrap special status to Jammu and Kashmir and divide the state into two union territories.
Ms Mufti was first charged under the Public Safety Act six months ago, and this is the third time that she would be charged. The charges against her in the current phase is ending on August 5.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah and his father Farooq Abdullah, who had been under house arrest since August last year, have already been released.
Ms Mufti has been detained at her home, which has been declared as a “subsidiary jail” by the government.
With this three-month extension, the People’s Democratic Party chief will spend over a year in detention.
Under the Public Safety Act or PSA, a person can be detained multiple times without any trial. The rights activism group Amnesty International has called PSA a “lawless law”.
Ms Mufti, 60, was detained along with Omar Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah and hundreds of politicians when the government ended special status to the state and split it into two union territories on August 5 last year. The centre had called it a preventive measure for possible backlash against the move.
Omar Abdullah, who was released from detention in the last week of March, just hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the coronavirus lockdown, had called the extension of Ms Mufti’s extension “unbelievably cruel and retrograde”.
People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone, who was released today, tweeted, “Finally 5 days short of a year I have been officially informed that I am a free man. So much has changed. So have I. Jail was not a new experience. Earlier ones were harsh with usual doses of physical torture. But this was psychologically draining. Much to share hopefully soon.”