India arrests Kashmir leader Abdullah under controversial law

Farooq Abdullah, 82, a three-time chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was on Monday arrested under the Public Safety Act (PSA) in Srinagar, the capital of the disputed Himalayan region.

A senior pro-India Kashmir politician was arrested under a controversial law that allows authorities to imprison someone for up to two years without charge or trial.

Abdullah has been under house arrest since August 5 when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government stripped Kashmir of its special status and imposed a security lockdown.

“We have arrested him, and a committee will decide how long the arrest will be,” said Muneer Khan, a top police official in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Rights activists say more than 20,000 Kashmiris have been detained under the PSA since it came into effect in 1978.

It has been widely used against rebels after an armed rebellion erupted against Indian rule in the region in 1989.

Abdullah’s residence was declared a subsidiary jail and he was put under house arrest on August 5 Getty Images

Amnesty International has called the PSA a “lawless law,” and rights groups say India has used the law to stifle dissent and circumvent the criminal justice system, undermining accountability, transparency, and respect for human rights.

On August 6, Home Minister Amit Shah denied to the lower house of parliament that Abdullah had been detained or arrested.

“If he (Abdullah) does not want to come out of his house, he cannot be brought out at gunpoint,” Shah said, when other parliamentarians expressed concern over Abdullah’s absence during the debate on Kashmir’s status.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has sought a response from the central government and the Jammu and Kashmir administration on a plea seeking to produce Abdullah before the court.

Thousands of protesters as well as pro-India Kashmiri leaders have been thrown in jails and other makeshift facilities to contain protests against India’s decisions, according to police officials.

Tens of thousands of additional Indian troops have been deployed in the Muslim-majority region, already one of the world’s most militarised regions in the world.

Telephone communications, cellphone coverage, broadband internet and cable TV services were cut for the valley’s 7 million people, although some communications have been gradually restored.

About 70,000 people have been killed since the 1989 armed uprising and a subsequent Indian military crackdown.

Kashmir’s special status was instituted shortly after India achieved independence from Britain in 1947. Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in its entirety, but each controls only parts of it.

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