Farooq Abdullah case : Time for judiciary to rise up-to the occasion and defend our freedom
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 was one and Ladakh was separated from the state. All the political leaders and prominent activists in the state are arrested and many are send outside the state.
The news of arrest of Omar Obdullah 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.
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 bhakts 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 chargesheet 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 upto 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 send 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 Obdullah, 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. Organisations 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 choice 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 issue 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.