The opposition leaders in India including a former Prime Minister have once again given fodder to Pakistan, by stating that the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir was still under lockdown and that the fundamental rights of the people were being muzzled.
In reality, there is no curfew in Kashmir, whereas mobile phones, mobile internet, and landline-based broadband internet have long been restored in the valley.
In a joint statement issued by NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI General Secretary D. Raja, Rajya Sabha MP prof Manoj Kumar Jha, Yashwant Sinha, and Arun Shourie both former Ministers in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, they have demanded the immediate release of the three former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir.
“India and its Constitution have always stood for ‘unity in diversity’ with everybody’s views respected, honored and heard. However, in the government of Shri Narendra Modi, democratic dissent is being muzzled by coercive administrative action, which has threatened the basic ideals of Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity as enshrined in our Constitution”, the statement read.
The statement also stated that there are growing assaults on democratic norms, fundamental rights and civil liberties of citizens of the Indian Republic. “As a result, dissent is not only being stifled, but the avenues of raising critical voices are also being systematically muted.”
“Nothing exemplifies this more starkly than the continuing detention, on flimsiest of grounds, of three former Chief Ministers of Jammu & Kashmir — Dr Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti — for over seven months”, it read.
The statement read that there was nothing in the previous records of the three leaders that could lead credence to their detention.
“There is nothing in the records of these three leaders to lend credence to the Modi government’s false and self-serving claim that they pose a threat to “public safety” in J&K or that they have endangered national interests with their activities”, it read.
The statement also spoke about how Ironically, the BJP itself has allied with all three of them, and their parties, in the past, both at the Centre (with National Conference) and in the state (with People’s Democratic Party). The very validity of the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA), 1978 can be challenged following the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution as the state has now been stripped of its Special Status.
“The indefinite detention of the three former CMs of J&K, along with many other political activists, is a blatant violation of their fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution”, it read.
Parroting what Pakistan has been saying on Kashmir, the statement issued by the opposition leaders read, “This must be seen in the larger context of the prolonged lockdown of the state since 5 August 2019, which also is an attack on the Constitutionally assured rights and dignity of millions of our sisters and brothers in Kashmir”, it read.
In their statement, the opposition leaders have also targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
“All this exposes the oft-repeated lie of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah that the situation in J&K is “completely normal”. Whereas the government has recently organized well-choreographed visits of the foreign diplomats to Srinagar in a bid to show the world that the situation in J&K is “normal”, it has placed all kinds of hurdles in the attempts of representatives of India’s own political and media establishment to move freely in the state and assess the situation on the ground”, it read.
The statement read that Under these circumstances, political parties committed to safeguarding the fundamental rights of the citizens and securing the sanctity of the Constitution, cannot sit quietly. It is our bounden duty to demand the immediate release of the three former Chief Ministers of J&K and all the other political detainees. We also demand a complete and verifiable restoration of the rights and freedoms of our Kashmiri brethren, who, against all odds, have repeatedly shown their allegiance to the Indian Union, by being an integral part of our democratic process.