The Winter Session of the Parliament began today amid uproar from opposition parties over the absence of veteran political leader Farooq Abdullah, who has been under house arrest at his residence in Srinagar since the abrogation of Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in her address said that her party demanded that both Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar and Mehbooba Mufti, all former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir be immediately released in the interests of the Parliament.
Her party, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), submitted an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha over Farooq’s release.
Farooq Abdullah has been under detention since the day Article 370 was revoked by the Parliament in August. He was charged with “disturbing public order’ under the Public Safety Act.
The opposition tried to stall the Parliament proceedings by stopping new members from taking their oaths. They demanded that either the government be instructed to release him or Home Minister should make a statement in the House in this regard.
Despite the Speaker’s several attempts to restore order and maintain decorum of the House, the opposition leaders walked into the well, raising slogans like “Vipaksh par Hamla Bandh Karo, Farooq Abdullah jee ko riha karo (Stop attacking the opposition, release Faroow Abdullah)”.
Later, the Lok Sabha Secretariat was given written information of Abdullah’s detention, about which the Speaker informed the House, saying that now he has received the official confirmation that Mr. Abdullah was under detention.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, criticized the government for allowing a private delegation of select European Union (EU) MPs to visit Kashmir and preventing its own parliamentarians to enter the region.
The continued detention of political leaders in Kashmir was also raised in the all-party meeting held on Sunday. In fact, Congress has also called on the government to allow its leader and former Finance Minister Chidambaram, to attend the Parliament session. Chidambaram is currently lodged in the Tihar Jail in connection with the INX Media case.
Hundreds of political leaders have been held under house arrest or been detained since early August when the centre announced its contentious decision on Article 370. The detention of leaders was part of a security lock-down that included the snapping of phone and internet services.