Azad hails release of Omar, demands release of Mehbooba and others

Jammu, Mar 24 (PTI) Senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday welcomed the release of National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and demanded immediate release of PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and other political detenues.

“I am extremely happy that ultimately Omar has been released after nearly eight months of detention. This detention was totally undemocratic and uncalled for,” Azad said in a statement issued here.

National Conference vice-president Abdullah was released after charges under the Public Safety Act (PSA), slapped on him in February, were revoked. He spent 232 days in custody since the government announced abrogation of the special status of the erstwhile state on August 5 last year.

“I urge the Government of India to immediately release Mehbooba Mufti and hundreds of other political detainees in and outside Jammu and Kashmir, especially in view of the coronavirus crisis,” Azad said.

The Congress leader said it is high time that the government realises its “mistake” and restores the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir.

“The government must also give back the exclusive rights on lands and services and the constitutional and democratic rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir as before August 2019,” he said.

Welcoming the release of former Chief Minister,  Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) chief spokesperson RAvinder Sharma reiterated the demand for the release of all mainstream leaders and political activists under detention besides lifting of “unwarranted and undemocratic” curbs and restoration of 4G mobile internet services.

“It (release of Omar) was expected in view of the observations of the apex court and the consistent pressure of  the opposition parties against such illegal and undemocratic measures against political opponents.  “The congress being the frontline democratic political force in the country, always maintained that prolonged detention of all mainstream leaders and political activists is totally unlawful and undemocratic and they should be freed sooner than later,” he said in a statement.  He said it was a welcome step that the government has finally released NC president Farooq Abdullah and now his son Omar after prolonged detention but the government is unnecessarily delaying the release of other mainstream leaders and activists including, former Chief Minister Mehbooba, besides continued restrictions on several Congress leaders.

He said the prolonged detention and restrictions on top opposition leaders including former chief ministers and others, coupled with the disbanding and downgrading of the state, has sent a wrong message in the entire society.

“The restoration of 4G services is the need of the hour so that the fight against coronavirus is more effective and the students and youth are able to carry on their academic activities in these difficult times,” he said. PTI TAS RAX RAX