Farooq Abdullah case : Time for judiciary to rise up to the occasion and defend our freedom

The Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India. (File Photo: IANS)

It is over
one and a half month since the Kashmir valley is completely locked down without
any communication network, internet, telephone and other facilities. Thousands
of students and other professional who are living outside of Kashmir are unable
to speak to their near dear ones. The people have been facing lots of
difficulties and it is unspeakable and unimaginable as all the information from
the state is not coming out.

It was
August 5th that the government declared that it is dividing Jammu and Kashmir
into two union territories. Jammu and Kashmir were one and Ladakh was separated
from the state. All the political leaders and prominent activists in the state
are arrested and many are sent outside the state.

The news of
arrest of Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti was flashed but not much was being
said about the veteran leader Farooq Abdullah, who at the moment was
representing Srinagar parliamentary constituency. As the Parliament was in
session and the Home Minister was bound to inform to the Parliament if the
sitting member has been placed under house arrest and if yes then why but on
August 6th, 2019, parliament passed everything that was asked them by the
powerful home minister along with his ‘historical’ speech. When the NCP leader
Supriya Sule as well as Mr. Shashi Tharoor asked Amit Shah about Dr Farooq
Abdullah, the home minister made an assertive point that he is repeating it
fourth time that Farooq Abdullah has not been arrested and wherever he is, it
is out of his own choice.

“I am
quoting Mr. Amit Shah’s statement in Parliament, as referred by the Indian
Express newspaper:

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.

Ref : https://indianexpress.com/article/india/farooq-abdullah-slapped-with-psa-may-remain-under-detention-for-two-years-or-longer-5999422/

Now, it is clear, how the home minister of India spoke about Abdullah and his ‘detention’ and a matter of absolute disregard to Parliament and its supremacy.

In fact, media that time did not bother to search for much and was deliberately focusing on Mehbooba and Omar but ignoring the issue of Farooq until in the evening of August 6th, Farooq Abdullah broke open his door and informed the media that he is not locked himself in out of his choice but he has been arrested. There were tears in his eyes when he spoke to NDTV’s reporter in Srinagar who went meet him as Dr Abdullah broke open his door and came out. It was on August 6th when the home minister was declaring in Parliament that Farooq Abdullah has not been arrested and that time Farooq wanted to prove that he has been arrested and detailed at his own home against his own wish. In any other democracy, the home minister’s misrepresentation of facts or lying to parliament would be a matter of privilege but then we know nothing would happen here. In fact, journalists don’t even have the courage to speak about this.

Farooq
Abdullah is a member of parliament and if he is arrested or detailed, the
matter must be reported to the Lok Sabha speaker but then you don’t expect
niceties in this government where leaders have extra-large image and bhaktas
are just clapping on every move. So much hatred has been sown in the minds of
the people that they are not interested to know about history. All they have
been injected with the hate Muslim virus. This is terrible and absolutely
distressing.

MDMK leader
Vaiko had challenged Dr Abdullah’s ‘illegal’ detention and wanted to know about
him in the Supreme Court of India. The government of India would have to
respond to as what happened and what is the case against him but just moment
before the matter comes, the government impose Public Safety Act ( PSA) on Dr
Farooq Abdullah, which allows government to keep a person around two years
without any obligations to place him in the court or file charge sheet about
him. Why are such laws being kept in India is a matter of deep concern and
shock for all the right-thinking people?

The
government’s shamelessness and brazen-faced disregards for democratic and
parliamentary procedures have now exposed in public domain when the Kashmir
documents which were passed in Parliament had glaring mistakes and had to be
corrected when published in the government gazetteer.

Under the
Public Safety Act, 1978, the district magistrate can order detention of a
person who he think is a threat to public safety without giving him any reason
or details. Though there is a tribunal where the matter goes but most of the
time these tribunals are nothing but official positions to get legal approval
stamped to what they wish to do. And once the decision of the district
authorities is approved by the tribunal, the arrest without trial can go up to
two years. Nothing happens to officials who do and act as they are already
shielded. The only option to get some relief is for a relative or a friend to
file a ‘Habeas Corpus’ petition before either the High Court or the Supreme
Court but it is not necessary that you will get justice here. Now, the
government was under pressure to explain in the Supreme Court as what is the
status of Dr Farooq Abdullah and hence just before the hearing it slapped PSA
on him and his home has been converted into a subsidiary jail. The government
did it so it might not get embarrassed for its inability to respond to the
petition in Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has fixed September 30th for the
same. Prior to that, the CJI of India, Justice Ranjan Gogoi might visit the
Kashmir valley to assess whether people are able to access High Court or not. Now,
this is a very poor reflection on the way things are happening in the courts.
Perhaps, some of our legal fraternity people should write in details on the
state of affairs of our judiciary. Right now, a majority of friends who are
observing things in the highest courts suggest only one word and that is
‘disappointing’.

The irony is
that Dr Farooq Abdullah, a three time chief minister, a former Union Minister,
son of undisputed leader of Jammu and Kashmir and father of a former chief
minister, leader of the biggest party of the state, who is 81 years old, with
kidney transplant and old age issues, is declared a threat to public safety.
The biggest irony is that it is the Abdullahs and Muftis who were holding the
flag of India in the valley even when there were massive anti Indian
sentiments.

Dr Abdullah
was sent by former Prime Minister Narsimha Rao to Vienna at the World
Conference on Human Rights in the year 1993 as a senior member of the
delegation under the leadership of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was the
leader of the opposition. It is not a coincident that when Vajpayee became
Prime Minister, he made young Omar Abdullah, his minister of state in the
Ministry of External Affairs and send him represent India at the ‘World
Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related
intolerance’, in the year 2001, at Durban.

Though
activists never agreed with his denial of caste discrimination in India, Omar
was only presenting the government of India views there.

For years,
the Pakistani establishment has been accusing both Abdullahs and Muftis as
puppets of New Delhi working against the interests of Kashmiris. Organizations
like Hurriyat and others too refused to accept them but what happened now is
that we have put all of them in one basket. Those who faced brickbats for being
with Indian were told that you too are unwanted and criminals. We don’t need
you because this government does not want listen a single statement against all
their acts of commissions and commissions. Is this the award being given to
them for being with India and supporting it whole heartedly? It was so
difficult for them to work when an atmosphere was created that they were
puppets but now they have been told to shut up and languish in jail.

We are told
that Kashmir will flourish and people will get an opportunity to invest there.
There are celebrations. TV channels are inviting the foul speaking fire
spitting Kashmiri Brahmins on TV studios deliberately to justify every misdeed
of the state. The only exception in this whole exercise of celebrations is the
absence of the Muslims in the valley. Nobody bothers and people post 15-20
second vehicular traffic to show the normalcy in the state. Many of the secular
liberals too have exposed themselves when the issue came.

Farooq and Omar defended India’s position on Kashmir internationally and it looks, for that, they have been ‘duly rewarded’. You cannot uplift a state and its people without engaging its political leaders, social activists, academics, lawyers and journalists. There cannot be any economic growth unless there is political freedom and right to choose of the people.

We all need economic growth in India where jobs are shrinking and markets are down, investment not happening and companies closing so it is not merely for Kashmir but for the rest of India too we need it but if those in power can realize that the atmosphere has been so much vitiated and communal venom spreading so fast that no investment will come unless this is completely checked and rule of law with the supremacy of our original constitution is allowed to be maintained. Let the Supreme Court bring sanity in our public discourse and issue guidelines on these issues of governance. We don’t want the court to do the governing act but this is a historical occasion for it to respond to the call as all of us are looking to it to play its role and ensure name in the history of legal fraternity that the Courts guided our destiny, protected our rights and freedom from a majoritarian state and instilled some sense of accountability in the governance system. Is it expecting too much from them, we don’t know, but if they rise up to the occasion,

I can only say, that generations will remember them for defending their rights and freedom?

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

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