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'This govt uses muscle power to gag opponents'

September 17, 2019 15:10 IST

'My request to Amit Shah would be "Please do not use archaic laws and muscle power against voices that have always stood by India.".'

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi with Communist Party of India General Secretary Doraiswamy Raja, National Conference MP Dr Farooq Abdullah and Nationalist Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar as Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, left, looks on. Photograph: Subhav Shukla/PTI Photo

Supriya Sule -- the Nationalist Congress Party member of Parliament from Maharashtra's Baramati constituency -- speaks out against former Union minister and Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah's detention under the draconian Public Safety Act.

Sule, who sits next to Dr Abdullah -- he represents Srinagar -- in the Lok Sabha, expresses her helplessness about not being able to help the detained Kashmiri leader.

The Public Safety Act 1978 allows the Union government to keep anybody under detention without trial for two years.

"They don't want anybody to speak against them," Sule tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com.

To your question in Parliament about Dr Abdullah's absence, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said he is not under arrest. And now we know Dr Abdullah has been booked under the Public Safety Act.
How draconian and how justified is this against a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir?

This is very, very, unfortunate. There is no feeling to describe this, but you feel so helpless at such times that there is no justice in this country.

We are so proud of our vibrant democracy, our freedom of speech and expression. I feel that we have been gagged by use of muscle.

We have been trying to get in touch with Dr (Farooq) Abdullah through his family, but there is absolutely no access to him.

His family has no access (to him) for the longest time.

This is unfortunate and absolutely killing democracy.

But the point is that Dr Abdullah was booked under this law only day before yesterday (Sunday, September 15) and the statement by the home minister was made much earlier than that.

Does Dr Abdullah deserve being booked under the Public Safety Act?

Nobody deserves to be booked under this Act.

These are all political workers. This (arrest of Dr Abdullah) is actually insulting to democracy.

Dr Abdullah's arrest is like the Emergency.

What would be your message to India's home minister?

My request to him would be 'Please do not use archaic laws and muscle power against voices that have always stood by India. I think they must be heard.'

This is almost like an Emergency situation without declaring an Emergency.

Nobody also knows about the whereabouts of former J&K chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

We have been desperately trying to reach him (Omar Abdullah) too through his family.

I have no idea where Omar Abdullah is, where Mehbooba Mufti is, where Dr Abdullah is. We have no access to any of these leaders.

What do these arrests tell you about the Modi government?

They have been using muscle and (political) power to gag opponents all the time.

There is no freedom of expression left (under this government).

They make use of money and muscle all the time. They don't want anybody to speak against them.

PRASANNA D ZORE / Rediff.com
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