On Wednesday, the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs- an agency within the US State Department welcomed the release of Farooq and Omar Abdullah from detention. It also urged the Indian authorities to free all other detained Kashmiri political leaders. Moreover, it appealed for the full restoration of internet services in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the novel Coronavirus crisis.
We welcome the release of former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Ministers @OmarAbdullah & Dr. Farooq Abdullah. We encourage the release of all Kashmiri political leaders & the full restoration of internet services as the #COVID19 fight intensifies. AGW— State_SCA (@State_SCA) March 25, 2020
A Presidential notification combined with requisite legislation passed by both the House of Parliament in early August led to Article 370 becoming virtually redundant. This implied that the special status of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was scrapped. Furthermore, the region was bifurcated into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh. Restrictions were imposed in the state and were gradually lifted over the weeks. However, 3G and 4G internet services are yet to be restored in the region.
Former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was in preventive detention since August 5, 2019. He was charged under the stringent Public Safety Act, a day before his prevention detention limit of 180 days was going to end. Recently, his sister Sara Abdullah Pilot challenged his detention under the PSA in the Supreme Court.
On March 18, the apex court asked the Centre and the J&K administration to respond by the next week on whether they intended to release Omar Abdullah. The bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and MR Shah stated that they would hear Pilot’s plea against her brother’s detention on merit if he was not released soon. Thereafter, Omar Abdullah’s detention order and the PSA charges were revoked on March 24 this year leading to his release from the Hari Niwas sub-jail.
On the other hand, the National Conference supremo Farooq Abdullah was charged under the PSA on September 17, 2019. He was kept under house arrest in Srinagar for 221 days. On March 13 this year, his detention order was revoked. So far, the Abdullah father-son duo has not commented on the revocation of special status to J&K. Meanwhile, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and other political leaders such as Sajjad Lone are still under detention.