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Govt Trying to Remove Nationalist Leaders like Farooq Abdullah, Says Rahul Gandhi; Demands His Release

File photo of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

File photo of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Monday said it has applied provisions under the stringent PSA for 15 days on National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah. The move came hours before the Supreme Court issued notice to the Centre on a habeas corpus petition.

New Delhi: A day after the Jammu and Kashmir administration said it has applied provisions under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) against former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday accused the BJP-led government at the Centre of trying to remove nationalist leaders to create a political vaccum that will be filled by terrorists.

He also demanded Abdullah's immediate release.

In a series of tweets, Gandhi criticised the government, saying once terrorists take up the vacuum left behind by the absence of leaders, "Kashmir can permanently be used as a political instrument to polarise the rest of India".

In another tweet, he added, "The government should stop creating space for terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir and release all nationalist leaders ASAP (as soon as possible)."

Several politicians have criticised the move to put Abdullah under house arrest. Condemning the detention, the Congress said injustice had been done and it's the country's "misfortune" that leaders who fought for its unity were behind bars. The party said it stood in solidarity with Abdullah and if there was "no militancy today" in the state, it was because of the Congress, the NC, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and not the BJP.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury earlier said, “Abdullah has stood by India through thick and thin. Why has the PSA been imposed? This is a cowardly afterthought by the BJP government with no respect for either India or its Constitution.” He also called it a brazen attack on democratic rights and civil liberties.

Abdullah, the three-time former chief minister and incumbent Member of Parliament who remains in detention since August 5, was booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) that allows the authorities to detain an individual for up to two years without a trial. The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Monday said the PSA provisions have been applied for 15 days. The move came hours before the Supreme Court issued notice to the Centre on a habeas corpus petition.

Arrested for being a threat to ‘public order’, Abdullah’s Gupkar Road residence in Srinagar has reportedly been declared a jail through a government order and he will continue to be lodged there.

The 81-year old NC patron has been under house arrest since the night of August 4, a day before the government made Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution ineffective and divided the state into two Union Territories.

Most of the mainstream leaders, including Abdullah’s son and former chief minister Omar Abdullah and PDP president and ex-CM Mehbooba Mufti, have also been detained since August 5.