Ground Report, Srinagar:
Former Chief Minister and top National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Tuesday walked into the footsteps of his father Dr Farooq Abdulalh stating that Government of India must release all prisoners detained on August 5 last year irrespective of their party affiliations and that 4-G internet services should be restored so that people learn how to fight the deadly Covid-19. 232 days after my detention today I finally left Hari Niwas. It’s a very different world today to the one that existed on 5th August 2019,” tweeted Omar Abdullah, who turned 50 on March 10. He was seen emerging from the Hari Niwas guest house near his official home in Srinagar, sporting a white beard and surrounded by people in masks on account of the coronavirus pandemic.
Talking to reporters at his Gupkar residence, soon after he was released from almost eight month long detention by the J&K government, Omar said that as far as Artic le 370 and 35 A, he will speak on the issues openly in detail later. “At present, I will speak about how we can get rid of Covid-19. We are fighting a big fight against Coronavirus. Today, when we were asked to maintain social distancing, here we are together violating the very orders,” he said. The government ordered his release on Tuesday, days after his father Farooq Abdullah was freed. A third former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti of the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party, is still in detention.
Omar along with other leaders including former Jammu Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti were arrested on August 5, the day when Government of India through a presidential decree read down the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
In a bid to curb the protests, Government of India resorted to an unprecedented lock-down, even detaining apolitical personalities, shifting them outside Jammu and Kashmir Jails. “For months, people in Kashmir faced hardships, children couldn’t go to school, shopkeepers couldn’t earn a living while several sectors collapsed and people were confined to homes. People suffered a lot and I will talk on time,” he said adding that at the moment people should follow government advisories to curb the spread of Coronavirus.
Omar Abdullah also demanded the restoration of 4G, stating that banning high speed internet in this crisis will serve no purpose.
Omar who has grown his beard long over the past eight months, preferred to his father’s way by not speaking about revocation of Article 370 and instead demanded release of all poltical leaders including PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti. “All those arrested or detained prior to August 5 last year should be released. Those who don’t even belong to any party should also be released.
He said that J&K as a statement was broken up in to two UTs. “During these months, students were left without schools. Our business, shopkeepers, hotels and all other establishments bore the brunt,” he said. “I was locked at only one place but the problems faced by the people of J&K during that period can’t be compensated,” Omar said.
And in his first tweet since August 5 last year, Omar wrote: “232 days after my detention today, I finally left Hari Niwas. It’s a very different world today to the one that existed on August 5, 2019.” Omar Abdullah, who turned 50 on March 10, was detained without charges but later, the government charged him the Public Safety Act (PSA). The charges listed out in a dossier against the 49-year-old National Conference leader included his “ability to garner votes even during peak militancy and poll boycotts”. It said Mr Abdullah, a former Union Minister, could influence people for any cause and specifically cited his ability to bring voters out in the wake of boycott calls by separatists.
Mr Abdullah’s sister Sara Abdullah Pilot, in her petition to the Supreme Court, said her brother had been detained on the basis of social media posts “that are non-existent have been wrongly, maliciously attributed to (Omar Abdullah)”.