Mehbooba Mufti released after 14 months in detention

Mufti's release comes two weeks after the Supreme Court asked the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) administration if the former Chief Minister’s detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA) can be extended beyond a year.

PDP President and former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti is being released after being in preventive detention for more than 14 months, J&K government spokesman Rohit Kansal said Tuesday.

Mufti, along with other political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir, was detained on the eve of the abrogation of J&K’s special status and its bifurcation into Union Territories on August 5 last year.

The PDP leader, who was charged under the Public Safety Act (PSA), had been held in house arrest since April 2020, after seven months of being detained in a government facility on the outskirts of Srinagar. Initially, Mufti was lodged at Cheshma Shahi guest house and then shifted to another government guest house at M A Link Road.

Mufti’s release comes two weeks after the Supreme Court asked the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) administration if the former CM’s detention can be extended beyond a year and, if so, “how long do you propose to extend it”. The bench had fixed the next date of hearing on Thursday (October 15).

The Supreme Court was hearing a plea filed by Mufti’s daughter Iltija against her mother’s continued detention. In an interview to The Indian Express, Iltija Mufti had said her mother’s detention forced her to speak up against all that has unfolded in Kashmir over the last year.

“As Ms Mufti’s illegal detention finally comes to an end, I’d like to thank everybody who supported me in these tough times. I owe a debt of gratitude to you all. This is Iltija signing off,” she tweeted from Mufti’s account.

Welcoming her release, former CM and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said: “I’m pleased to hear that Mehbooba Mufti Sahiba has been released after more than a year in detention. Her continued detention was a travesty and was against the basic tenets of democracy.”

The J&K administration has over the last few months been revoking detentions under PSA, first for those detained in prisons within J&K and later for those jailed outside the UT.

In March, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and vice-president Omar Abdullah were released from detention after nearly seven months. A month later in June, former bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal and two senior members of the People’s Democratic Party were also released.

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