Farooq Abdullah visits detained Mehbooba’s residence

SRINAGAR, Mar 18 (Agencies): In a goodwill gesture, National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday met Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti and her family and spent nearly an hour with them. The meeting comes two days after he had asked all political parties of Jammu and Kashmir to jointly appeal to the Centre to bring back all detainees lodged outside the Union Territory.

The 82-year-old Abdullah drove to ‘Fairview’ residence of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, where he met her mother Gulshan Ara and daughter Iltija Mufti. “It was a nice gesture from such a senior leader of the state to have spent time with us,” Iltija Mufti told media. This was termed by the leaders of both sides as a courtesy call to the residence of Mehbooba Mufti, the arch political rival, who is presently under detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA). Abdullah, a former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister himself, was released on Friday after his PSA was revoked while his son and former chief minister Omar Abdullah continues to be under PSA detention since August 5 last year when the Centre abrogated provisions of Article 370 and bifurcated the erstwhile state into union territories.

After his release, Abdullah had visited the graveyard of his father and NC founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, and also visited his detained son on March 14 for the first time in the past seven months. On Sunday, Abdullah in his first statement after his release, asked all political parties of Jammu and Kashmir to jointly appeal to the Centre to bring back all detainees lodged outside the union territory on “humanitarian” grounds.

The NC chief said while he advocated for a “free and frank exchange” of political views in order to take stock of the “momentous changes” that Jammu and Kashmir has seen since August 5, “we are still some way away from an environment where such political discourse will be possible. This is especially so considering the number of people detained in August last year who remain in jails outside J&K”. He had said, “We allow politics to divide us, I appeal to all political leaders in the state to unite behind the call to the Union government to bring back all detainees from Jammu and Kashmir from prisons outside the Union territory pending their release.

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