PSA dossier: Omar is ‘popular’, ‘radical’, and a vote magnet despite poll boycotts

The Asian Age.  | Yusuf Jameel

India, All India

But he threw his cover and resorted to ‘dirty politics’ after abrogation of Article 370, the charges say

In this file photo taken on April 15, 2019 former chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir Omar Abdullah speaks during an election campaign in Srinagar. (AFP)

Srinagar: The dossier compiled against Omar Abdullah, on the basis of which he was detained under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) last week, accuses him of being “a popular politician” who adopted a “radical methodology” and who “removed his cover and resorted to dirty politics” after the Centre abrogated Article 370 and split the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir into two union territories on August 5, 2019. 

The dossier justifies Abdullah’s detention for “instigating general masses against the policies of the central government.” 

Prior to being booked under the PSA, Abdullah had spent six months in preventive custody under Section 107 of the Criminal Procedure Code. He was among hundreds of politicians and activists taken into preventive custody to prevent a backlash to the August 5, 2019 moves.  

The dossier says he is being detained on the basis of his popularity among the people and his tweets against the revocation of Article 370. “The subject is a popular figure among masses and has tremendous potential for diverting the energy of common people for any cause,” it says, adding “An overview of the activities of the subject suggests that the ideology of the subject is favouring radical thoughts, which he has also turned into action.”

Elaborating on Abdullah’s ‘great influence’ on the people, the dossier refers to his electoral victories, and says he got the people to come out and vote for him even at the height of militancy and the separatist movement and even amid a poll boycott by militants.

It reads, “The capacity of the subject to influence people for any cause can be gauged from the fact that he was able to convince his electorate to come out and vote in huge numbers even during the peak of militancy and poll boycott.” 

Referring to Omar Abdullah’s tweets opposing the abrogation of Article 370, the dossier says he instigated people on the micro-blogging site against the unity and integrity of the nation. It further accuses him of using politics as a cover for planning activities against the Union government: “Despite the fact that the subject has been a mainstream politician, he has been planning his activities against the Union of India in the guise of politics. And while enjoying the support of gullible masses, he has been successful in execution of such activities.”

A separate dossier based on which People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has been detained under the PSA mentions public remarks she allegedly made against the Army and her pro-militant tweets and attempts “to collaborate with separatists”. It says there were “confidential reports” suggesting that she was “collaborating with the separatists”. 

It also refers to her calling for “dignity to militants after death” and accusing the Army of “using chemical weapons against them”. The dossier also mentions her tweets opposing the Triple Talaq law passed by the BJP-led Union government and the critical remarks she made over the lynching of Muslims in the country. The dossier against her also mentions her stiff opposition to the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A.

While calling her “a vocal voice” against the Centre’s move reading down these Constitutional provisions, it says Mehbooba Mufti had even said that tampering with Article 35A would be akin to lighting a powder keg and that it would engulf the hands making such an attempt. It also refers to her speech in which she had cautioned that no one will be left in J&K to unfurl the tricolour if Article 370 goes. 

Apart from Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, the authorities have booked four other senior mainstream leaders including National Conference president and three-time chief minister Farooq Abdullah, former ministers Naeem Akhtar (PDP) and Ali Muhammad Sagar (NC) and former senior vice-president of the PDP and Mufti’s maternal uncle Muhammad Sartaj Madni under the PSA. 

Under the PSA introduced in J&K in 1978, a person can be detained for a period of two years without the authorities seeking a formal trial. In 2012, the state legislature amended the law by relaxing some of its strict provisions. In the case of first-time offenders or individuals who “act against the security of the state” for the very first time, the detention period for such individuals was reduced from two years to six months. However, the option of extending the term of detention to two years was kept open, “if there is no improvement in the conduct of the detainee”.