SRINAGAR: It’s a very different world, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah said on Tuesday after being released from nearly eight months in detention, adding that the first task was to fight Covid-19 and any discussion on political developments could come later.
Abdullah, sporting a long, unkempt grey beard, drove himself to his parents’ home after walking out of the makeshift detention centre Hari Nivas, a state guesthouse. His mother Molly and sister Safia were with him.
Abdullah said, “232 days after my detention today I finally left Hari Niwas. It’s a very different world today to the one that existed on 5th August 2019.”
It was his first tweet since August 5 last year, when he was detained following the government revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 and bifurcating the state into two union territories.
His first step after release was visiting his parents’ home – his father Farooq Abdullah was released on March 13 — where he had lunch with the family.
“Had lunch with my mum and dad for the first time in almost 8 months. I can’t remember a better meal even though I’ve been in a bit of a daze and don’t remember what I ate,” he tweeted.
Abdullah, who was released after the administration revoked the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) against him, also spoke to reporters, saying they were violating orders on social distancing by coming to meet him and this was a time to take precautions.
“During my period of detention, I thought a lot about what I would say the moment I come out … what I would say about what happened on August 5 last year, what would I would say about Jammu and Kashmir as a state that was broken up into two Union territories, what I would say about the change in the status of J&K, and about the hardships the people faced,” Abdullah said outside his residence.
The education of children, the tourism industry, businesses and every other sector in the state had suffered, he said.
“But today, let’s not be complacent towards the challenges being faced the world over. This is a fight between life and death. All of you have come here and it is definitely in violation of the government order.
“We should ensure social distancing and take adequate precautions. We should ensure that the coronavirus does not spread. I will talk about political developments and other aspects post August 5 but let us first fight this coronavirus,” he said.
Abdullah requested the Centre to release others detained, including PDP leader and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.
The National Conference leader also asked the Centre to remove communication restrictions and ensure high speed internet so people of Jammu and Kashmir are able to educate themselves about ways and means of protecting themselves from the coronavirus pandemic.