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'Release all J&K political prisoners including Mehbooba, Omar'

New Delhi

09-March-2020

NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and seven other top opposition leaders on Monday demanded immediate release of political prisoners in Jammu & Kashmir, particularly the three former Chief Ministers.

Pawar, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, former Prime Minister and JD-S chief H.D. Deve Gowda, CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI chief D. Raja, RJD MP Manoj Kumar Jha, and former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, in a joint statement, termed the detentions as a violation of fundamental rights and attacked the Narendra Modi government for "threatening" the Constitution's basic ideals.

Seeking the release of Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, of the National Conference, and Mehbooba Mufti, of the Peoples Democratic Party, they said: "There is nothing in the past 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."

"Ironically, the BJP itself has allied with all three of them, and their parties, in the past, both at the Centre with the National Conference and in the state with People's Democratic Party," they said in the statement.

"We also demand 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. It is bounden duty to demand the release of three former Chief Ministers."

The statement said that India and its constitution have always stood for "unity in diversity with everybody's views respected, honoured 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.

"There are growing assaults on democratic norms, fundamental rights and civic 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," the statement read.IANS