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Kashmir leader arrested under 'lawless law'

September 16, 2019

The former leader of the Indian-administered part of Kashmir was arrested on Monday under a controversial law that allows authorities to detain people for two years without trial.

Farooq Abdullah, former commissioner of the Jammu and Kashmir region
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Khan

A pro-India lawmaker was arrested in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Monday, marking the latest move in a string of government clampdowns in the region. Farooq Abdullah, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and current parliament member, was arrested by police under the controversial Public Safety Act — a law that allows authorities to imprison people for up to two years without a trial.

The 81-year-old is the first high-profile pro-India politician to be arrested under the law known as the Public Safety Act. Abdullah has already been under house arrest since August 5, when the Indian government called an end to Kashmir's special semi-autonomous status, which had been in place since 1947.

"We have arrested him, and a committee will decide how long the arrest will be," said police official Muneer Khan. Indian authorities have defended the law as necessary to maintain peace in the area.

But Amnesty International has denounced the Public Safety Act as a "lawless law" and said it is an attempt on behalf of the authorities to circumvent the legal system and undermine human rights in the region.

'4,000 arrests'

So far an estimated 4,000 people have been arrested in the Jammu and Kashmir region, according to a report dated September 6, although many have since been released. More than 200 politicians are among them, including Abdullah's son Omar Abdullah, who also served as Chief Minister of the region from 2009 to 2015.

India's Supreme Court has released a plea to the Indian central government and to authorities in Jammu and Kashmir for Abdullah to appear before trial as soon as possible.  

Kashmir health care in chaos

'Lockdown must end'

The arrest comes as authorities attempt to crack down on protests and unrest in the weeks since the region was stripped of its special status. India's removal of the autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir has strained ties with Pakistan, which has also claimed parts of the region.

The Indian-controlled region has also experienced frequent communication blackouts since August 5. Pakistan's ambassador to Germany told DWon Friday that India must end this lockdown in order to restore diplomatic relations with Pakistan and find a solution to unrest in the area.

ed/stb (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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