Govt slaps PSA charge due to Omar’s social media power, Mehbooba’s pro-separatism

Govt slaps PSA charge due to Omar’s social media power, Mehbooba’s pro-separatism

Agency News

Srinagar: Union Government points out two glaring reasons for slapping stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) on two former Chief Ministers of Kashmir, NC leader Omar Abdullah and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti.

As far as Omar Abdullah is concerned, his social media influence and mobilization talk is cited as reason behind PSA. For Mehbooba Mufti, her strong “pro-separatist” stand acted against her.

For the last six months Omar and Mehbooba Mufti had been under preventive detention. They both were confined by the Centre along with the announcement of abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution granting Jammu and Kashmir special status and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two union territories — Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir on August 5.

They were booked under the PSA on the night of February 6, barely a few hours before their preventive detention was to end. According to rules, preventive detention can be extended beyond six months only if an advisory board, constituted two weeks before the completion of the 180-day period, recommends for that.

However, no such board was constituted and the Jammu and Kashmir administration was left with two choices — either to release them or slap the PSA.

The three-page dossier against Omar cited some internal meetings of the National Conference in July in which he is alleged to have said that there was a need for mobilising support so that the Centre will not be able to carry out its plans for abrogation of special status of the state.

The police have also cited that Omar, who was a minister of state for external affairs as well as commerce and industries in the union government and former chief minister, was very active on social media, a platform which has the potential for mobilizing the youth.

Restrictions have been put on communication links since August 5. These were subsequently eased. Internet is functional at a few places through leased lines. Mobile internet facility has been made functional but with a speed of 2G with special instructions that it would not be used to access social media sites.

However, the police have not specifically mentioned any of Omar’s social media posts in the dossier. “To the people of Kashmir, we don’t know what is in store for us…….stay safe and above all please stay calm,” was the last few tweets of Omar before he was taken to Hari Nivas for preventive detention.

Mehbooba has been slapped with the PSA for her remarks which included challenging accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India in case the Article 370 was abrogated.

The statements of the former chief minister, whose party PDP was an ally of the BJP till June 2018, on security forces killing militants was also made a part of the PSA dossier against her.

Her support to the Jamaat-e-Islamia group of Jammu and Kashmir after it was declared as a banned organisation by the Centre under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) also figures in the dossier.

Omar’s father, Farooq Abdullah, who is a five-time chief minister and currently a member of Lok Sabha, was booked in September last year under the PSA, a law which was enacted by his father Sheikh Abdullah in 1978 to fight timber smugglers in the state as they would easily get away with minimal detention those days. Sheikh Abdullah brought the Act as a deterrent against timber smugglers as it provided a jail term, without a trial, for up to two years.

However, this Act came in handy for the police and security forces during the early 1990s when militancy erupted in the state.