The Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday revoked the detention of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, under the Public Safety after keeping her under detention for over a year – the eve of the Centre scrapping Article 370. Mufti’s release comes ahead of the crucial hearing of a habeas corpus petition filed by her daughter challenging the detention of the former.
Confirming the release of her mother, Mehbooba’s daughter Iltija Mufti took to Twitter to thank those who supported her in these tough times. She said she owes a debt of gratitude to all.
As Ms Mufti’s illegal detention finally comes to an end, Id like to thank everybody who supported me in these tough times. I owe a debt of gratitude to you all. This is Iltija signing off. فی امان اﷲ May allah protect you
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) October 13, 2020
Mufti’s political opponent, Omar Abdullah, who also spent eight months under detention, expressed his happiness over the release of Mufti. “Her continued detention was a travesty & was against the basic tenets of democracy. Welcome out Mehbooba,” Omar Abdullah tweeted.
I’m pleased to hear that @MehboobaMufti Sahiba has been released after more than a year in detention. Her continued detention was a travesty & was against the basic tenets of democracy. Welcome out Mehbooba.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) October 13, 2020
Last month, the top court questioned the central government and the J&K administration over her detention, asking them: “How long can Mehbooba Mufti be kept in custody?” The Supreme Court gave two weeks’ time to the J&K administration to make its stand clear on how long Mufti can be kept in custody and whether her custody can be extended beyond one year.
Why Mufti was arrested at all – Article 370
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti was arrested moments after the Parliament of India passed the bill to bifurcate the state into two Union territories. The government had earlier revoked the state’s special status, provided under Article 370, via presidential order.
Minutes after Mehbooba Mufti was arrested, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah was also taken into custody. Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference leaders Sajjad Lone and Imran Ansari have also been arrested. Some more arrests have been made, officials said, without sharing details.
Mehbooba Mufti was taken to Hari Niwas – a VVIP state guest house, where she was put under house arrest as the authorities clamped restrictions under Section 144 of CrPC. The reason for her arrest was not immediately known.
Earlier during the same day of her arrest, Mehbooba Mufti had come down heavily on the Modi government for scrapping J&K’s special status. “The abrogation of Article 370 hasn’t just made accession null and void but also reduces India to an occupation force in Jammu and Kashmir,” she claimed on social media.
In a series of tweets, PDP chief claimed that Kashmiri people were defeated and betrayed by Indian institutions. “Today the people of Jammu & Kashmir who reposed their faith in institutions of India like parliament & Supreme Court feel defeated & betrayed. By dismembering the state & fraudulently taking away what is rightfully & legally ours, they have further complicated the Kashmir dispute,” she had said in another tweet.
The essence of Article 370
Article 370 was the basis of a Jammu and Kashmir’s disputed accession to the Indian union at a time when erstwhile princely states had the choice to join either India or Pakistan after their independence from the British rule in 1947.
The article, which came into effect in 1949, exempts Jammu and Kashmir state from the Indian constitution. It allows the region jurisdiction to make its own laws in all matters except finance, defence, foreign affairs, and communications.
Article 370 established a separate constitution and a separate flag and denied property rights in the region to the outsiders. This essentially meant that the residents of the state would live under different laws from the rest of the country in matters such as property ownership and citizenship.
The essence of Article 35A
Article 35A was introduced through a presidential order in 1954 to continue the old provisions of the territory regulations under Article 370 of the Indian constitution. The article permits the local legislature in Kashmir to define permanent residents of the region.
Article 35A forbids outsiders from permanently settling, buying land, holding local government jobs, or winning education scholarships in the region. The article, referred to as the Permanent Residents Law, also bars female residents of Jammu and Kashmir from property rights in the event that they marry a person from outside the state. The provision also extends to such women’s children.
While Article 35A has remained unchanged, some aspects of Article 370 have been diluted over the decades. Critics of Article 35A say the provision did not have any parliamentary sanction, and that it discriminates against women.