Opposition leaders including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday issued a joint statement demanding the immediate release of three former Chief Ministers of Jammu and Kashmir.

“We demand the immediate release of all political detainees in Kashmir, especially the three former Chief Ministers of Jammu and Kashmir,” read a joint resolution written to the BJP-led Central government by eight opposition parties.

Under the Narendra Modi government, the resolution said, “democratic dissent is being muzzled by coercive administrative action, which has threatened the basic ideals of Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity as enshrined in our Constitution”.

“Nothing exemplifies this more starkly than the continuing detention on ‘flimsiest of grounds’ of three former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers for over seven months,” the statement said.

The opposition also pointed out that the BJP itself has allied with all three of them, and their parties, in the past, both at the Centre (with National Conference) and in the state (with People’s Democratic Party).

“There is nothing in the past records of these three leaders to lend credence to the Modi government’s false and self-serving claim that they pose a threat to ‘public safety’ in J&K or that they have endangered national interests with their activities,” they added.

The Opposition leaders who made the demand and later issued a joint statement to the media are NCP president Sharad Pawar, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, former PM and JD(S) leader H D Deve Gowda, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI chief D Raja, RJD leader Manoj Kumar Jha, former BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie.

The joint resolution also stated that the indefinite detention of the three former CMs of J-K, along with many other political activists, is a “blatant violation of their fundamental rights” guaranteed by the Indian Constitution and added that the prolonged lockdown of the Union Territory since 5 August 2019, is also an “attack on the Constitutionally assured rights and dignity of millions of our sisters and brothers in Kashmir.”

The three former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have been under detention in the Valley since August 5, 2019, and have been slapped with the Public Safety Act (PSA).

Omar Abdullah is under “precautionary” confinement at Hari Niwas in Srinagar, while his father, Farooq Abdullah is being held at his residence in the city. In November, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti was moved from the Chashme Shahi resort in Srinagar to government accommodation in view of the winter.

The BJP government has come under fire from opposition parties and US lawmakers as well, for the detention of senior political leaders, and hundreds of local citizens. The government, however, has maintained that these restrictions are intended to maintain order and prevent terror attacks.