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Will revoke PSA if voted to power: Omar

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Srinagar, Jan 31: National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah Thursday said the Public Safety Act (PSA) would be revoked if his party was voted to power.

Making the announcement in Pulwama district in south Kashmir, Omar Abdullah said: "I do not wish to see the youth of the state behind bars without trial for months together. The parents crying for their children picked under the act."

Under the controversial PSA, a person can be detained without trial for six months.

"If voted to power, PSA revocation will be ensured," the former chief minister said, leading to a Twitter spat with the National Conference's arch rivals, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

There are as many as 230 people, including 180 from the state, who have been booked under the PSA. These include some separatist workers as well as Pakistani and other foreign nationals, who have completed their sentence but have not been taken by their respective countries of origin.

The PDP was quick to dismiss Omar Abdullah's promise. "A party that convinced the idea and acts like PSA, POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act), AFSPA to muzzle the dissent voices, rigged elections in 1987, booked elected people in jails and declared them militants are now asking for majority to revoke PSA. Illogical!" the PDP tweeted.

Reacting to the criticism, Omar Abdullah said: "I was expecting this panic reaction. Thank you for not disappointing me. You had a chance after 2014 when you people were praising PM (Narendra) Modi to the skies. Why didn't you revoke PSA or attempt to have AFSPA removed?"

The NC leader said now people could choose the PDP and keep the PSA or choose his party to remove it.

"To those of you Kashmiri leaders who are questioning @JKNC_ 's PSA related commitment I have simply this to say - you should have used your friendly ties with BJP to do it earlier. Now people have a choice vote for you to keep PSA or vote @JKNC_ to remove it," he added.

The 48-year-old said his party was committed to bringing the state out of misery, despondency and darkness. "The masses reflecting the faith that #OnlyHal (plough -- election symbol of the party) is the answer to their problems."

The law -- first enacted by the government led by Omar Abdullah's grandfather, Sheikh Abdullah, in 1978 to tackle timber-smuggling in forests -- came handy for the police and paramilitary forces during the early 1990s when militancy broke out in the state.

After the then Union Home minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, enforced the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the state in 1990, the PSA was used rampantly for picking up people in the state.

Omar Abdullah said during his tenure as chief minister, he had strongly pitched for revocation of the AFSPA from some of the districts, including Srinagar, Jammu and Udhampur that were militancy-free. However, the then Defence minister, A K Antony, opposed the move in cabinet meetings.

The elections in the state have not been announced so far. The State Assembly was dissolved on November 21.




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