Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal has hit out at Central government over the detention of Jammu and Kashmir National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah under the Public Safety Act. Sibal questioned whether the step was prompted by MDMK chief Vaiko’s plea in the Supreme Court seeking a directive that the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister be produced before it.

In a recent development, Abdullah has now been detained under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA), which enables authorities to detain any individual for two years without trial. Abdullah’s Gupkar residence in Srinagar has been declared as a subsidiary jail, a government official said. Ironically, the law was first promulgated during Sheikh Abdullah’s tenure, father of Farooq Abdullah.

The 81-year-old patron of the National Conference has been under detention shortly after August 5 when the Centre announced abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.

“Now PSA (43 days later). Earlier BJP said 92% of people in J&K welcome dilution of Article 370; that normalcy prevails. Then Amit Shah in Parliament: Farooq Abdullah neither detained nor arrested,” Mr Sibal said in a tweet.

“If no danger to public safety then, why now? Because Vaiko filed petition?” he asked.

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration to respond to Vaiko’s plea seeking that the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister be produced before the court.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SA Bobde and SA Nazeer issued notice to the Centre and the state, and fixed Rajya Sabha MP Vaiko’s plea for hearing on September 30.

Vaiko’s lawyer had pointed out the contradictory statements given by Home Minister Amit Shah and NSA Ajit Doval.

Responding to Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s query on Abdullah’s whereabouts, Shah had said, “I have made it clear thrice, Farooq Abdullahji is at his home, he is not under house arrest, he is not under detention. He is in good health, ‘mauj-masti mein hain, unko nahi aana hai toh gun kanpatti par rakh kar bahar nahi la sakte hum’ (he is happy and cheerful, if he doesn’t want to come then we cannot make him do so at gun-point).”

“I am saying it for the fourth time and I have the patience to say it for the tenth time, Farooq Abdullah has neither been detained nor arrested. If he isn’t well, doctors will take him to the hospital. House should not worry. If he was not well, he would not have come out,” Shah said.

Doval on the other hand had said that Abdullah is detained at his house.