SRINAGAR: The National Conference on Friday condemned the slapping of the Public Safety Act (PSA) against party vice president Omar Abdullah, general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar and others, saying the "atrocious" move is yet another blatant illustration of the Centre's high-handedness.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were on Thursday night booked under the stringent PSA, barely hours before their six-month-long "preventive detention" was to come to an end.
NC leader and former minister Sagar and PDP leader Sartaj Madani were also booked under the PSA by the J and K administration on Thursday.
"The measure debunks the claim of the BJP-led central government on the restoration of normalcy in J and K. The present situation in J and K is far from normal," NC leaders Muhammad Akbar lone, Hasnain Masoodi and Imran Nabi Dar said in a joint statement.
The invocation of the PSA on NC leaders and others is yet another atrocious move of blatant illustration of the Centre's high-handedness, it said.
Reacting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks attributed to Omar Abdullah, the statement said, "It is indeed alarming that the PM is quoting a satirical website to attack the leader in Parliament."
"On one hand the home minister has been maintaining that he never referred to the former incarcerated CMs of J and K as anti-nationals, on the other hand we have the PM saying that they have been fanning terrorism. Who is to be believed then?" it added The NC said the allegations against Omar Abdullah were baseless.
"On the contrary it is the NC that has been at the receiving end, and here we have the PSA invoked on a person who has all along been advocating peace and non-violence. The incumbent central government has chosen to belittle his contribution. We condemn the measure in strongest terms," the party statement said.
The NC said the world community is worked up to see how the BJP-led central government is treating the former CMs of J and K.
The same representatives, New Delhi once maintained, were the genuine and real representative voices of J and K, it said.
"For past many decades New Delhi has been flaunting political and diplomatic messages about the Kashmiris making their choices by using ballot boxes.
"However, the same party, and the same leaders on which people had reposed their faith are now been targeted, revealing all-encompassing crackdown of the BJP-led central government in J and K.
"The only reason why the NC leaders are under arrest is because they do not agree with Narendra Modi and Amit Shah," the party added.
Referring to the detention of NC president Farooq Abdullah under the PSA for past six months, the leaders said former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during the Agra Summit had referred to the ex-CM as the "third party" to the issue of J and K.
"He undoubtedly qualified the claim owing to his representative character. But now the same person is under detention for the past six months. The same person who held high the torch of democracy in a state torn by conflict, at the risk to his life. But today we see how he along with his party colleagues is being treated. All the democratic voices of J and K have been thrown under the bus purely for their conscience," the statement said.
Farooq Abdullah was booked under the PSA in September last year which was reviewed again in December for a period of three months.
In Jammu, a high-level meeting of the NC, attended by over 60 leaders including former ministers and legislators, was held at the party headquarters to discuss the slapping of the PSA on the mainstream politicians.
In a statement issued after the meeting, the party urged the Centre to review the decision of the invocation of the PSA on mainstream leaders and release all those detained unconditionally.
It referred to the political philosophy of the party which led J and K to reject the two-nation theory of Mohammed Ali Jinnah and tie its destiny with secular, democratic India.