Opinion DC Comment 11 Feb 2020 Release former CMs; ...

Release former CMs; J&K dossiers surreal

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Feb 11, 2020, 2:00 am IST
Updated Feb 11, 2020, 2:00 am IST
Abdullah was also accused of speaking out against the revocation of J&K’s autonomy under Article 370.
Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti
 Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti

The government’s dossiers against Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, two former chief ministers of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state, already languishing in jail for six months — based on which the two were recently charged under the Public Safety Act, J&K’s draconian preventive detention law, may have been dismissed as amusing — a typical example of concoctions the police in India are known to insert into their FIRs and investigation reports — if they weren’t dangerous, given their wider implications for Kashmir and the country.

Such official justifications against high political personages who also hold an esteemed position in society, are unlikely to have been drummed up by the police and bureaucracy on their own. In high-profile cases, they are known to act based on guidance from above. And since the UT is now under New Delhi’s direct rule, one can assume that the political masters at the Centre are the real authors of the loaded dossiers. Let’s look at the absurdity. The dossier on Mr Abdullah refers to “the capacity of the subject to influence people for any cause can be gauged from the fact that he was able to convince his electorate to come out and vote in huge numbers even during the peak of militancy and poll boycotts”.

 

In any democratic system, such an individual should get high marks for acting against extremism and militancy and getting people to the ballot box through his words, but not under the stewardship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah. Indeed, the government has determined that Mr Abdullah is a victim of “radical methodology”. Being a vote-catcher can falsely lead to any politician being labelled as a pied-piper who is “radical”, losing sight of the real political meaning of that expression. If the capacity to get people to vote is made a criminal offence and attract the charge of causing public disorder or disaffection against the State, then all vote-pulling politicians beware. Big Brother is watching!

Mr Abdullah was also accused of speaking out against the revocation of J&K’s autonomy under Article 370. This is extraordinary. While this provision was emasculated through the use of the government’s brute majority and political arm-twisting by it in Parliament, the constitutionality of the action is still before the Supreme Court. In any case, questioning or challenging the government is not a crime, much less an act against India, which the dossier suggests. The political class and our civil society need to gauge how dangerous the implications of the dossier against Mr Abdullah are.

The BJP had no hesitation co-habiting with Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP to be in power in J&K, but now the dossier against Ms Mufti accuses her of opposing triple talaq and speaking out against mob lynching, and being “her daddy’s girl”. It’s with her “daddy” that the saffron arty had struck an alliance in J&K. Political prisoners in J&K must be freed, not charged on surreal grounds.

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