Srinagar: Never would Sheikh Abdullah have imagined that his son Farooq would one day be arrested under the Public Safety Act (PSA) which he, as the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir in 1978, enacted to fight timber smugglers in the state.
The stringent PSA was introduced in Jammu and Kashmir to tackle timber smuggling as those involved in the crime at that time would easily get away with minimal detention, officials said on Monday.
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, the officials said.
After the then Union home minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed enforced the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the state in 1990, the PSA was used rampantly for picking up people in the state.
On Monday though, the four-decade old act was used by the police to detain Sheikh Abdullah's son Farooq, himself a three-term chief minister and five-time parliamentarian.
Detention under the PSA is subject to periodic review by an official screening committee and can be challenged in high court.
The Act was amended in 2012 and some of its stricter provisions were relaxed. After the amendment, period up to which a first-time offender or individual can be put in detention without trial was reduced from two years to six months.
However, a provision has been kept in the Act to extend the detention, if necessary, to up to two years, they said.
Sheikh Abdullah's grandson, Omar Abdullah, who has also served the state as a chief minister, had promised during the Lok Sabha elections that if his government comes to power in the state, it would press for abolition of the PSA.