Srinagar: Former chief minister Omar Abdullah has regretted that he did not revoke Public Safety Act (PSA) when he had the chance to do so.
He said the fears people in the valley have about the BJP-led government at the Centre attempting to change the demographic balance in the state were not unfounded.
“There are genuine concerns, real concerns, ” he said, adding that if one were” to take a straw poll of all the domicile certificates that have been issued since this new law came into being and see the religious breakup in those between Muslim and non-Muslim, I think that will prove to you that these concerns are not misplaced.”
While it would “take a long time to convert J&K from a Muslim majority to a Muslim minority state”, Abdullah said “the intent under which they are operating will be very clear to everybody… Otherwise, why would you tinker with our domicile law?”
“I guess… If there is one regret that I have, it is I did not revoke the PSA from the statute books when I had the opportunity, and when I was in power. I should have done it then, I think the realization dawned on me much later. That realization dawned on me before my arrest, and not post-arrest. Over the last couple of years we had been making the promise that if the NC is returned to power, we would strike down the PSA and remove it from the statute books. I wish I had done that in office,” Omar told The Wire in an interview.
At the same time, he said the way he and other J&K administrations had used the PSA and the way it was being used now was different.
“There may have been some questionable detentions [in our time], but by and large the people we were dealing with were people waging a campaign against the country. Here you are detaining mainstream politicians who haven’t said anything seditious or anything to disturb the peace. None of us have called for agitations, protests for youngsters to pick up the gun or anything like that. All we said was that we will democratically oppose any changes that are forced on the people of J&K, and for that we were punished the way we were,” he said.