In 'unprecedented' crackdown post-1990, 489 booked under 'PSA'

In 'unprecedented' crackdown post-1990, 489 booked under 'PSA'

Under the PSA, civilians are locked up in J&K without a trial for a period of three or six months. But, the imprisonment period can be extended to one or two years.

In one of the heavy-handed crackdowns in Kashmir post-1990, as many as 489 civilians have been booked under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA) in the past 90 days to subdue the ongoing pro-freedom uprising in the region, sources told Greater Kashmir on Thursday.

Official sources disclosed that Deputy Commissioners have prepared 489 PSA detention orders in the past two and a half months to crack the whip on street protesters and cadres of pro-freedom groups. Of them, 415 dossiers have been executed by arresting an equal number of civilians, they said.

Following the killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani by forces on July 8 in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, the State’s PDP-BJP Government has gone all out to curb the protests by detaining protesters under the PSA and also under different sections of Ranbir Penal Code(RPC) pertaining to “rioting” and even attempt to murder.

Under the PSA, civilians are locked up in J&K without a trial for a period of three or six months. But, the imprisonment period can be extended to one or two years.

The massive detentions, under PSA, have been effected by the government notwithstanding widespread criticism of the law in the past.

A senior official, wishing anonymity, said that maximum detentions have taken place in Baramulla, Anantnag (Islamabad), Pulwama, Srinagar and Shopain districts.

“We have been told to make maximum use of the law to quell the ongoing protests and ensure that all trouble-makers and cadres of separatists groups, involved in mobilizing public, are booked under it,” he said.

He said most of the detainees have been lodged in prisons of Jammu province, particularly Kathua and Kotbalwal jails.

Kashmir’s known lawyer who pleads the cases of PSA detainees, Mir Shafqat Hussain, said the present dispensation is “arbitrarily” and “randomly” invoking PSA against the people.

He said the government is not following any criteria and is booking people irrespective of their age and health condition.

“It is height of injustice that people who have undergone five to seven surgeries are being booked under PSA and subsequently lodged in Kotbalwal and Kathua jails,” he said.

Mir said he has himself filed around 150 petitions in the High Court seeking quashment of detention orders passed by DCs.

Inspector General of Police (Kashmir range), Syed Javid Mujtaba Gilani said that PSA is being invoked against the people “involved in creating unrest” in Kashmir.

From time to time, global rights bodies have urged the J&K Government to repeal the law that was enacted in late 70s.

In 2008, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions ruled that 10 individuals detained under the PSA in J&K had been arbitrarily detained in violation of articles 7, 9, 10 and 11(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Articles 9 and 14 of the ICCPR. It also called on the Government of India to bring its laws in conformity with its international human rights obligations.

Three years later, in 2011, the Amnesty International described the law as a “lawless law.”