A day after his release from seven-and-a-half month-long detention, former chief minister and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Saturday emotionally hugged his detained son Omar Abdullah in the Srinagar’s sub-jail at the Hari Niwas where he was allowed to go by the Union Territory (UT) authorities.
It was an emotional meeting between the father and son in which Farooq’s wife Molly was also present. Both warmly embraced each other.
Omar was detained along with his father Farooq and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti on 5 August last year when the Modi government abrogated the Article 370 providing special status to Jammu and Kashmir and also split the state into two UTs.
This was Farooq’s first meeting with Omar after their detention. However, both of them remained silent about the details of the meeting. Farooq was released on Friday after his detention under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) was revoked.
He drove from his residence to the nearby Hari Nivas on the other end of the Gupkar Road where Omar has been held first under preventive custody that was later converted into Public Safety Act (PSA).
After his release, Farooq had asked J&K authorities for permission to see his son for the first time since the two were detained in August last year. Immediately after his release, Farooq yesterday went to offer respect at the grave of his father Sheikh Abdullah.
When Farooq returned home after meeting Omar, the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad came to meet the latter. Azad had repeatedly questioned the centre over the “undemocratic” detention of the Abdullahs, Mehbooba Mufti, and others.
“It is a matter of great happiness for me. I met Farooq Abdullah after over 7 months. He was detained for all these months, the reason for his detention is not yet known to us,” Azad told media persons. Azad arrived in Srinagar in the morning and reached the residence of Abdullah where both were closeted for about two hours.
Both Farooq and Azad addressed media persons after they met. Farooq said he was obliged to Azad who had made several attempts to meet “me” while “I” was under detention but was made to return to Delhi from the Srinagar Airport.
Azad said he was thankful to those MPs and political leaders who had rained voices in the Parliament against the “unconstitutional” detention of Farooq Abdullah, Omar, and Mehbooba Mufti.
He said, “We still don’t know why Farooq was kept under detention for more than seven months.”
Democracy cannot flourish by caging the opposition leaders and the best way forward is to release all the detained politicians and hold free and fair elections to set in motion the political process. Statehood of J&K should immediately be restored. Democracy was trampled when three former chief ministers and elected representatives of opposition parties were put in jail by the centre. Being a former chief minister, “I” was allowed to visit the state only on the orders of the Supreme Court.
“First and foremost, democracy should be restored in J&K for any political process to start,” Azad said.
“…Democracy can be restored once all the leaders behind bars — either in jails or in house arrest — are released. Let every individual of J&K be released from jail. Let the political process start… Let democracy prevail and then we can pick up other fights,” he said.
Replying to questions about the new political party, J&K Apni Party, that has come up under former PDP minister Altaf Bukhari, Azad said that such attempts of floating parties with the backing of intelligence agencies never succeeded in Kashmir in the past. Serious steps should be taken to restore democracy by releasing all detained persons and holding free and fair elections.