Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti was released from detention after 14 months, on Tuesday night. The news has been hailed by many opposition leaders who also condemned the "illegal" move by the Central government.
Hours after her release, Mufti put out a short audio clip condemning the "black decision of the black day in August 2019". The clip is the first direct message she has sent out via Twitter since her detention began. "After being released from fourteen long months of illegal detention, a small message for my people," she wrote in the caption.
Why was she detained?
Mufti had been the Chief Minister till 2018 - the first woman to hold the position. She had been leading a coalition government with the BJP until the party withdrew from the alliance.
The PDP leader had been among the hundreds of people who were taken into preventive custody hours ahead of the Centre revoking the special status of the Jammu and Kashmir and breaking the state into two union territories on August 5 last year. Amid unprecedented security cover and restrictions, officials had said that Mufti who had been under house arrest since the night of August 4, 2019 had been arrested a day later.
She was not alone. Other detainees included Farooq, and son Omar Abdullah, who were released earlier this year. Treated a threat to the law and order situation, orders for their arrest were issued by magistrates in view of their activities to cause breach of peace and tranquility in the Kashmir Valley.
Later, on February 6, she was booked under the stringent PSA. She was shifted to her official residence on April 7 after it was declared a subsidiary jail by the authorities. In July this year, Mufti's detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA) was extended by three months. Mehbooba's release comes barely two days before the Supreme Court was to hear the matter related to her detention.
What is the PSA?
The Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act of 1978 is a law under which people can be taken into custody to prevent them from acting harmfully against the state. To ensure safety and maintain public order, the PSA thus permits preventive detention for up to two years without a trial.
In many ways the PSA is similar to the National Security Act, albeit enacted prior to the NSA.
(With inputs from agencies)