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Twitterati react on the release of Omer Abdullah from detention

Twitterati react on the release of Omer Abdullah from detention
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Dar Aaqib and Aabid Yosuf

Few days ago, netizens started a campaign to highlight the plight of Kashmiri prisoners languishing in Jammu Kashmir and other Indian jails, raised their safety concerns amid global pandemic and pitched for their release. The demand started after global human rights organizations called for the release of prisoners in the wake of Covid-19. On 24th March 2020, state authorities released former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah, after the lag of eight months. Abdullah was booked under the stringent act of Public Safety Act on February 5, hours before his six-month custody under preventive detention was to end. In Jammu and Kashmir, PSA was introduced by the then-Chief Minister, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, Omar’s grandfather in 1978 to ostensibly stop the smuggling of timber. However, the political motives behind the law became clearer when Sheikh Abdullah used it for the first time against political rivals.

In April 2019, Omar Abdullah said that his party would scrap the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA) if voted to power. However, the former chief minister when in power used it extensively. Many were Booked under PSA which prompted Amnesty International to release a report in March 2011 calling it a ‘lawless law’.

Free from detention after nearly eight months, Abdullah looks rather different with a long beard and closely trimmed hair. Omer Abdullah was Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir during the 2010 unrest in Kashmir in which 120 people were killed. On the release of Omer Abdullah, the Kashmiri netizens expressed their opinions on Twitter:

Just after his release Omer Abdullah tweeted:

232 days after my detention today I finally left Hari Niwas. It’s a very different world today than the one that existed on 5th August 2019.

“Welcome back. Now please shave,” wrote NDTV editor Nidhi Razdan. This tweet generated a storm of response mostly from trolls. Amnesty India later took to twitter and criticized the way female journalist was trolled for reporting the news and welcoming Omar Abdullah back on twitter.

Journalist from India Today, Shiv Aroor started a Twitter poll whether or not Omar Abdullah should shave his beard. The Indian liberals were exuberated by his jail release.

Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP, congratulated him on his release:

Good to have you back on @twitter & I hope soon amongst us, Omar, #covid19 permitting! Glad to sense that you’re in good spirits, your sense of humour is intact & feistiness undiminished. There’s a battle to be fought against two viruses, the other being the communal contagion.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted

So happy to learn that @omarabdullah’s unconstitutional and undemocratic detention has been revoked at last. It’s about time the union government restores democratic and constitutional rights to the people of Jammu and Kashmir as well.

Barkha Dutt, noted Indian journalist, was also quick to welcome him back.

 

While these welcoming salutations were being offered from the Indian side, Kashmiri netizens reminded Omar Abdullah his own days as chief minister of Kashmir, when 120 young boys were killed.

A twitter handle by the name Zulkarnain Banday tweeted to Omar Abdullah “No amount of detention can absolve you or your family from crimes against Kashmiris. The blood of 120 young Kashmiris is still on your hands. We remind it ourselves every day, for in remembrance we find resistance”.

Another Twitter user, MCKash  tweeted “When will Omar Abdullah be criminally held responsible for his complicity in the year 2010 massacres of hundreds of Kashmiri children? Asking for a friend. RIP”. Roshan Illahi, nom de guerre MC Kash is Hip Hop artist who shot to fame in 2010 after releasing his first rap song ‘I Protest’, which ends with him listing the names of the people who got killed during the unrest. One of them, Inayat Khan, was his friend.

Though many media persons welcomed Omar on twitter, Waseem Dar, a photojournalist took exception to his fellow journalists and posted newspaper cuttings from 2010 unrest when Omar Abdullah was in power. Waseem wrote, “Stick to your job without earning favours. Speak truth to power”

Ashok Swain, Professor at Uppsala University, Sweden accused Omer Abdullah making a deal with the Delhi. “Abdullahs have made a deal with Modi and Shah! Plan before summer unrest – give back state status to #Kashmir & make Omar the Chief Minister!” Swain tweeted.

Khuram Parvez, prominent Human Rights activist, in a tweet demanded the release of other Kashmiri prisoners.

”Omer Abdullah’s preventive detention – revoked after 8 months. Good. Now is the time to end the vulnerability of all other Kashmiris who are in preventive detentions in overcrowded jails outside & inside Kashmir. Releasing them will be a corrective measure & no benevolence” he tweeted.

 

Few other reactions on Abdullah’s release on twitter:

How does it feel to have a taste of your own medicine, Omar? Curious to know that from the former head of “unified command”.

Omar Abdullah was not jailed he was growing a beard. it takes time people! #anotherkillerisout #standwithkashmir

“He’s kept a count of his days under detention the way we have of our kids killed under his tenure in the summer of 2010.”

 

Reacted on this Ahmed Bin Qasim, younger Son of Mohd. Qasim Faktoo and Asiya Andrabi who are behind bars tweeted

“I am 20 and I have not had one meal with my father all my life. I do not have one family photograph to cling to. Because you prolonged the imprisonment of my father when you were in power. There are thousands of children in Kashmir who share my fate. #ReleaseKashmiriPrisoners

“You were not under lockdown. You were illegally and arbitrarily detained by India, as thousands continue to be at grave risk to their lives. Do not continue to normalise state crimes”

A well-known cartoonist, Mir Suhail, produced a sketch reminding Mr. Abdullah of PSA dossiers he signed:

 

Known Indian Journalist Rana Ayub also replied ‘God bless Omar. Good to see you back’. But, this did not go well with Kashmir twitter users. She was rebuked for the tweet and at the same time reminded how she was revered by the people for her courageous stand in support of Indian Muslims.  However, she later deleted the tweet without telling any reason.

Dar Aaqib and Abid Yosuf are post graduate students of Kashmir University.

Disclaimer: Views expressed are authors’ own and do not reflect the stand or policy of Oracle Opinions.

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