National Conference President Farooq Abdullah on Sunday said that he has consciously avoided making any political statements since he was released from detention on Friday.
"While I believe a free & frank exchange of political views is essential so that we can take stock of the momentous changes that J&K has seen after 5th August 2019, we are still some way away from an environment where such political discourse will be possible. This is especially so considering the number of people detained in August last year who remain in jails outside J&K," he said in a statement.
Abdullah, a former Chief Minister and Union Minister, said he is acutely aware that compared to hundreds of Kashmiri families he has been far more fortunate.
"I was detained at home & my family had access to me. Yesterday (Saturday) when I went to meet my son Omar, also detained under the Public Safety Act, I had to travel a kilometre from my home to be able to see him," he said, but noted that for families of most of the detainees, meeting their loved ones is not nearly as easy.
"Their loved ones have been detained in jails spread across a number of states. They get two visits a month for which they have to spend large sums of money they can ill afford travelling to & staying in the vicinity of these prisons.
"The already onerous financial burden is made worse by the health risk they now face because of Covid-19. At a time when people are being advised not to travel these families are being forced to put their lives at risk in order to meet their loved ones for a few short but very precious hours," he said in the statement.
"Before we allow politics to divide us, I appeal to all political leaders in the state to unite behind the call to the Union government to bring back all detainees from J&K from prisons outside the state pending their release. While we would like to see them all released as soon as possible, pending that they should be shifted to J&K. This is a humanitarian demand & I hope others will join me in placing this demand in front of the government of India," he added.