PSAs on Ex-CMs, other leaders adds to prevailing political vacuum in Kashmir

‘Middle-rung leaders of parties say no question of political activities till leadership released’

Srinagar, Feb 08 ): Amid Jammu and Kashmir administration’s decision to slap three former chief minsters of J&K and three other leaders with the Public Safety Act (PSA), a law that allows detention of a person for two years without trial, the political vacuum prevailing in Kashmir since August 5 last year has further deepened. The political activities amid the din by two major political parties National Conference and PDP seeking release of their leadership, have come to a grinding halt adding more to the already existing political vacuum.

Dr. Farooq Abdullah, the NC patriarch was slapped with the PSA more than six months ago, his son Omar Abullah and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti met the same fate. NC leader Ali Muhammad Sagar, and PDP vice president and the uncle of Mehbooba, Sartaj Madani was also booked under PSA. And the latest was on Saturday—PDP’s chief spokesman and senior leader, Naeem Akther too was slapped with PSA.

An official told wire service—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) since the detention of these leaders under sections 107 ended after the passage of six months, slapping them with PSA was the only option left to “prolong their detention.” “This is what was decided in a high level meeting held in Srinagar recently,” he said, wishing not to be named.

With three former chief ministers of J&K being booked under detention and the three leaders—one from NC and two from PDP, the total number of PSAs slapped on political leaders serving detention since August 5 last year, has reached six.

A middle-rung NC said that given the way Centre is treating political leaders, there was no question of carrying out political activities. “Instead, the political vacuum has further widened rather deepened across Kashmir,” he said. “We can’t start political activities given the present circumstances when our leaders are booked under PSA. There is no question of that.” A PDP leader also echoes similar concerns. “Treatment meted out to our leadership has plunged Kashmir into most uncertain period in the history. How can we go for political activities when top leadership is booked under PSA,” he said, wishing not to be named.

Kashmir has been under tight grip of uncertainty since August 5 with business activities come to a standstill. A shopkeeper at Lal Chowk area of Srinagar said that from August to November, their shops remained shut and when they opened shops in December business didn’t pick up. “In January 2020, business remained low and there is no improvement in the business activities in February too. We are running in losses,” he said.

According to Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) report, Kashmir suffered a close to Rs 18000 Crore losses and almost five lakh jobs were lost due to the uncertainty that prevailed in the Valley between August 5 and November last year in the wake of roll back of J&K’s special status and bifurcation into two Union Territories (UTs).