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Former IAS, J&K Leader Shah Faesal Detained Under Stringent Public Safety Act (PSA)

Shah Faesal joins a long list of leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, including three former chief ministers, who have been booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA)

New Delhi: 

Shah Faesal, the 2010 Indian Administrative Service topper from Jammu and Kashmir whose detention after scrapping of special status to Jammu and Kashmir triggered outrage, has been detained under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) that allows detention without trial for up to three months and multiple extensions.

Mr Faesal now joins a long list of leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, including three former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, who have been booked under the PSA. Other political leaders who have been charged under the PSA are Ali Mohammed Sagar, Naeem Akhtar, Sartaj Madani and Hilal Lone.

Mr Faesal, who announced his intention to join politics last year, was detained at Delhi airport on August 14, a week after the centre scrapped special status to Jammu and Kashmir, as he was about to fly abroad. He was sent back to Srinagar, and detained since.

On August 12, a Look Out Circular — under which one is not allowed to leave the country — was issued against him by the Intelligence Bureau. Questioning Mr Faesal’s contention that he was on his way to the US to complete his studies at Harvard University, the government said he was travelling on a tourist visa and not a student visa.

Mr Faesal had been one of the most vocal critics of the government’s move to end Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and divide the state into two Union Territories.

A qualified doctor, Mr Faesal quit the IAS in January to protest against what he called “unabated killings” in Kashmir and the “marginalization of Indian Muslims”.

He became the first person from the state to top the civil services exam in 2010.

Using the PSA against Farooq Abdullah was the first instance of the law being used against a mainstream politician, especially an MP and a three-time Chief Minister. Usually, it has been used to arrest terrorists, separatists or stone-throwers.

Formally called the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, the law was introduced by Farooq Abdullah’s father, former Chief Minister Sheikh Abdullah, to target timber smugglers.

The PSA, often described as a “draconian law”, empowers the government to detain individuals whose actions can be seen as “instigating, provoking or disturbing, or is likely to disturb, public order”. It also allows the government to detain individuals “outside the limits of the territorial jurisdiction of the officer making the order”.

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