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Former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have been booked under the draconian Public Safety Act, nearly six months after they were placed under preventive detention.

Ali Mohammad Sagar of the National Conference and Sartaj Madhni of People's Democratic Party (PDP) have also been booked under PSA, as per orders issued by the Union home ministry late Thursday. The leaders have been booked under PSA for three months.

The order comes five months after former chief minister Farooq Abdullah was booked under the PSA.

Ironically, the draconian Act of 1978, which allows the central government to detain a person for two years without trial, if he or she is perceived to be a threat to public safety, was enacted by Omar Abdullah's grandfather Sheikh Abdullah to check smuggling.

The move comes close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday accusing some Kashmiri leaders of stoking unrest after the abrogation of Article 370 on 5 August.

“There have been statements made by former Jammu & Kashmir chief ministers that are not acceptable to us, and should bother anyone raising issues relating to the Constitution," Modi had said.

Mufti on Friday asked why the draconian Act was not imposed against leaders who had recently made incendiary remarks against anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters.

The Centre's move to book the leaders under PSA also created ripples in New Delhi.

"Shocked and devastated by the cruel invocation of the Public Safety Act against Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and others," former Union minister and Congress leader P. Chidambaram tweeted.

"Detention without charges is the worst abomination in a democracy. When unjust laws are passed or unjust laws are invoked, what option do the people have than to protest peacefully?" he added.

Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), in a statement, said “We strongly condemn the invoking of the draconian Public Safety Act on former CMs of J&K Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. The former served under a BJP government as minister of state and the latter as CM of the state in coalition with the BJP, under oath of the Indian Constitution."

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