Mainstream parties on Thursday reacted sharply to the slapping of the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) on four prominent Kashmiri politicians, including two former chief ministers, and said the move belies the Centre's claim of normalcy in the union territory.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah and two political stalwarts -- National Conference leader and former minister Ali Mohammed Sagar and PDP leader Sartaj Madani -- were booked under the PSA by the administration on Thursday.
Reacting to the development, the People's Democratic Party (PDP) said the BJP-led government at the Centre is "testing the patience" of the people by such "undemocratic moves".
Jammu and Kashmir unit of the CPI(M) also condemned the slapping of the PSA on the prominent Kashmiri leaders, while the Congress termed the decision as "unfortunate".
A magistrate accompanied by police served the order to Mufti at the bungalow where she has been detained, officials said.
Abdullah was also booked under the PSA, they added. Sagar, who wields a support base in downtown city, was served with a PSA notice public order by the authorities. Similarly, Madani, who is the maternal uncle Mufti, was booked under the PSA.
Both Sagar and Madani were detained in the aftermath of August 5 crackdown by the Centre on politicians following abrogation of special status of the erstwhile state, besides its bifurcation into union territories.
Their six-month preventive custody was ending on Thursday.
Earlier, the officials had said that former NC legislator Bashir Ahmed Veeri was also booked under the PSA but later it turned out that he had been released. A PDP spokesperson described the slapping of the PSA on the leaders as "most condemnable" and said the Union government is "testing the patience of the people of Jammu and Kashmir by such undemocratic steps".
"If everything is normal in Jammu and Kashmir, why the mainstream leaders are treated like criminals?" he asked.
"The BJP is misleading the country about Jammu and Kashmir," the spokesperson added.
Senior CPI(M) leader and former legislator M Y Tarigami said the decision puts a question mark on the Centre's claim that the situation is normal in J and K post the abrogation of special status and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into UTs on August 5 last year.
"On one hand, the BJP within and outside Parliament is claiming that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is normal, on the other it is resorting to the use of draconian laws against prominent leaders.
"What is the meaning of slapping the PSA on the leaders after six months? They (government) are claiming that the situation is normal and improving and are releasing the detained political leaders," he said.
Tarigami said the local administration is preparing to hold elections to nearly 13,000 vacant posts of panches and sarpanches but the decision to slap the PSA does not go well with the democratic exercise.
"The elections should precede release of political detenues and political activity but they are slapping the PSA. There are already many people in jails or under house arrest, including the three former chief ministers. The claims of normalcy are completely farce," he said.
Chief spokesperson of Jammu and Kashmir unit of Congress Ravinder Sharma termed the slapping of the PSA on the four leaders as "unfortunate".
"There is no justification for it...the mainstream leaders served the erstwhile state in different capacities," Sharma said, adding the latest move does not match with the claims of normalcy by the BJP and comes at a time when it is encouraging a section of mainstream opposition leaders for political activity.
Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir unit of the BJP on Thursday questioned those who are vying for the release of the three former chief ministers -- NC president Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti -- who have been under detention since August 5 last year.
"Though the BJP opposes prolonged detention of any individual but has no hesitation to support the same if it contributes to peace and restoring normalcy," BJP spokesperson Brig (retd) Anil Gupta said in a statement here.