02 March, 2021

A Prisoner Of The Nation

Photo by Umer Asif
A Prisoner Of The Nation

He was lovingly named Umar by his uncle. His father, Mohammed Abdullah Lone, gave him only his middle name. It was 2001, and a namesake—Omar Abdullah—had been made the deputy foreign minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government.  The paths of Umar and Omar have never crossed, but they now share a similar fate—both are among the hundreds under detention since Kashmir was stripped of its special status last year. Umar Abdullah, a student, has been booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA), the same law under which former CMs Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have been put ­behind bars. Umar, however, is detained at the Lucknow Central Jail for the past seven months while the three ex-CMs, along with many other politicians, are detained in Srinagar.

Sitting in his one-storey house in Akhal, a village 50 km northwest of Srinagar, Umar’s father says his son was taken into custody on August 6, 2019, a day after Article 370 was abrogated amid a communication blockade and mass ­arrests. “He was first taken with three...

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