India frees Mehbooba Mufti after more than a year in detention

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FILE PHOTO: Mehbooba Mufti, president of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Kashmir’s main opposition party, speaks after police stopped her protest march in Srinagar October 5, 2011. REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli/File Photo

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) – Indian authorities released Mehbooba Mufti late on Tuesday, the last major Kashmiri leader held since August last year when the federal government withdrew the troubled region’s autonomy and arrested politicians.

Mufti, a former Chief Minister of the state, was released late on Tuesday, government spokesperson Rohit Kansal said on Twitter. He did not give a reason for her release.

A government order seen by Reuters said Mufti’s detention under the Public Safety Act, which allows for detention without trial for up to two years, was being revoked with immediate effect.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said at the time that ending Kashmir’s special status was necessary for closer integration of the Muslim majority territory into the rest of India.

The government imposed a communication blackout with mobiles phones, internet links and landlines down and detained scores of people including Mufti to prevent large scale protests from erupting over the loss of autonomy for Kashmir.

Top politicians Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, both former Chief Ministers of the state, were released earlier this year.

Mufti’s daughter had filed a habeas corpus petition in the country’s Supreme Court, challenging her mother’s detention under the Public Safety Act. The case is scheduled to come up for hearing on Thursday.

(Reporting by Fayaz Bukhari, writing by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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