Couldn't Recognise Omar Abdullah, Tweets Mamata as Latest Bearded Photo Goes Viral

New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday shared a photograph of National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, who has been under detention since the BJP-led central government revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status in August last year.

In the photo shared from her official Twitter handle, a beanie-wearing Abdullah is seen smiling and sporting a long salt-and-pepper beard. It's not clear when the photo was taken. This is the first picture of the 49-year-old Abdullah in public domain after five months of captivity.

"I could not recognise Omar in this picture. Am feeling sad," said Banerjee in a tweet. "Unfortunate that this is happening in our democratic country. When will this end?"

CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said Abdullah's photograph pointed to a "very disturbing fact" about the government.

"This picture points to a very disturbing fact about the central government. A former CM, who is also a former Union minister, has been detained for months without any charge. And he and his party have been the biggest votaries of India," Yechury said in a tweet.

Abdullah is among the three former chief ministers of the erstwhile state who continue to be in custody since August 5 when the Centre abrogated the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and divided it in two Union Territories. The other chief ministers are his father Farooq Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti. Hundreds of other political leaders, social activists, lawyers and businessmen also remain in detention.

Abdullah, Mufti and other politicians were detained under Section 107 of Code the of Criminal Procedure, which allows authorities and an executive magistrate to put any person under preventive custody for six months if he receives information that the person is likely to commit a breach of the peace or disturb the public tranquility.

Farooq Abdullah is the only mainstream politician against whom the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) was slapped on September 17 for a period of three months, which was renewed on December 16 last year.

While the Jammu and Kashmir administration has recently restored internet and telephone facilities in several districts of Kashmir, the politicians remain under detention, a move that has been criticised by several leaders, both national and international. On Friday, the United States once again called upon the Indian government to "move swiftly to release those political leaders detained without charge".

(With inputs from PTI)