The former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir was arrested in August 2019 following the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A of the Indian constitution.
Mehbooba Mufti, a prominent Kashmiri politician, has been released after a 14-month detainment period. She was among the many political leaders arrested in India under the J&K Public Safety Act (PSA) of 1978 on 5th August last year after the federal government abrogated Articles 370 and 35-A of the Constitution to revoke the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir.
Mufti served as Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir from 2016 to 2018, and is leader of the Kashmir People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
On Monday, Mufti’s daughter, Iltija Mufti, announced the news of her release through Mehbooba Mufti’s Twitter account. During her detainment period, her daughter had been using Mufti’s social media accounts for communication.
“As Ms Mufti’s illegal detention finally comes to an end, I’d like to thank everybody who supported me in these tough times,” she said on Twitter, before taking her leave from her mother’s account.
Mufti’s release follows the filing of a habeas corpus petition by her daughter at the Supreme Court, challenging the grounds for her detention. A hearing for the case is scheduled for 15th October.
When asked about stepping away from her mother’s social media, Iltija Mufti told NDTV that she feels “huge relief.” She added: “But a lot of young people are still languishing in jail. [The detention was a] complete travesty of justice [and] other families are still suffering.”
There has been widespread criticism of the Indian federal government’s use of the PSA to arrest dissidents against the state. The law allows detention for up to two years without trial, and has been used by the Indian government to arrest activists that have protested against the stripping of autonomy of the Muslim-majority Kashmiri region.
According to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, altering Kashmir’s special status was to integrate the region within the rest of India. However, the abrogation of Article 370 revoked Kashmir’s autonomy and ushered in a new era of suppression of the Muslim-majority Kashmiri population by the right-wing federal government.
Alongside Mufti, other politicians arrested by the Indian state included former chief minister Omar Abdullah and regional party leaders Ali Mohammad Sagar and Sartaj Madni. Omar Abdullah and his father Farooq Abdullah, also a former chief minister of the state, were released earlier this year.
Soon after the news of her release, her political party’s official Twitter announced that Mufti will address a press conference on 16th October.
Mehbooba Mufti also took to Twitter to share an audio message with a black screen.
“I’ve been released after more than a year. During this time, I’ve always thought about the centre’s cruel decision of abrogating article 370. The government will have to give back the special status and take steps to release those who are languishing in jails in several parts of the country. I know it won’t be easy, but we all have to fight back,” she said.