Home minister Amit Shah on Tuesday informed the Lok Sabha that Jammu and Kashmir lawmaker Farooq Abdullah was at his home in teh Valley after members demanded to know why he was not present in the House during the debate on Article 370 and whether he had been detained.
“Farooq Abdullah has neither been detained nor arrested. He’s at his home,out of his own free will,” Shah said during a debate on a resolution to scrap Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and a bill to bifurcate the state.
Earlier, NCP’s Supriya Sule and DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran sought to know where the National Conference leader was on the day crucial legisation related to his state were being discussed.
“I sit on seat 462, Farooq Abdullah sits on seat 461. He’s elected from J&K, we can’t hear him today.This debate will be incomplete if you ask me,” Sule said.
“Mr Farooq Abdullah, a member of this House is missing. He is arrested. We have no intimation. You as a Speaker should protect the members. You should be neutral,” DMK member Dayanidhi Maran said in the Lower House.
Reading out from the Rule Book, Maran said that it is mandatory that the Speaker is informed in case a sitting member is arrested but there no information on Lok Sabha member from Srinagar Farooq Abdullah.
The Kashmir Valley is under unprecedented security with reports suggesting that a few leaders have been arrested, which could not be independently confirmed. Prohibitory orders have been imposed in the Valley and all communication – Internet, mobile, landline – snapped. All tourists and pilgrims as well as students at the NIT were told to immediately leave the state.
These steps preceded the introduction of the resolution and the bill in Rajya Sabha on Monday by Home Minister Amit Shah. The resolution is meant to scrap the Article 370 that grants special status to the state and the bill divides the state into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
The resolution passed by the Rajya Sabha with 125 votes in favour, and 61 against. The bill was passed by a voice vote. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation on Wednesday.
Amit Shah, who piloted the bill through the upper house where the ruling BJP doesn’t have a clear majority, had prompted a furious response from the opposition led by Congress when he first attempted to introduce the changes earlier on Monday.
Shah brushed aside fears that there would be violence as he stood up to respond to the debate, saying “nothing of the sort will happen”. The home minister insisted that Article 370 could be blamed for much of the terrorism that had been seen in Jammu and Kashmir to underline that the existing policies, in any case, had cost more than 41,000 lives.