Govt justifies continuation of Enemy Agents Ordinance

Greater Kashmir

Cites US pullout from Afghanistan as reason

Jammu, Mar 1: The State Government Saturday justified the continuance of 6 decades old Enemy Agents Ordinance by invoking the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
Speaking in the Legislative Council, Minister for Planning & Development Department, Ajay Sadhotra opposed the introduction of a Bill to repeal the law, which is replica of the repealed controversial laws like POTA and TADA. The Bill was moved by National Conference MLC Bashir Ahmad Veeri.
The Minister said the law cannot be scrapped at this stage as “the pullout of the US-led troops from Afghanistan would impact the ground situation here.”
“We cannot allow the Bill to go as there are disturbances and ceasefire violations on the Line of Control,” he said.
Without naming Pakistan, Sadhotra said, “Our neighbor is always waiting for any opportunity to create disturbance (in the State).”
Sadhotra said that JK faced a full-fledged proxy war in 90s as youths crossed the border and returned with arms.
The Minister’s remarks, however, are contradictory to the Chief Minister’s views on the impact of US pullout on the situation in JK.
Earlier this week, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had said the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan wouldn’t impact the ground situation in the State.
“I know some people are worried over the situation in the State this year relating it to the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. I am not one of those who believe this development would seriously impact the ground situation the State,” Omar had said while addressing the police passing-out parade in Sheeri area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.
At another function, the CM had said some people were creating ‘unnecessary scare’ on US withdrawal to justify continuation of AFSPA.
Promulgated in 1948 in the tenure of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, the Enemy Agents Ordinance was meant for trial and punishment of ‘enemy agents’ and ‘persons committing certain offences with the intent to aid the enemy.’
The law has been extensively used against the separatist activists since then.
In 2010, a Bill introduced by PDP’s Murtaza Khan for scrapping the law was defeated in the Upper House.
“There are 180 cases pending disposal under the Ordinance and every case is important. Everyone could not be pardoned, but the government would bring a Bill on its own at an opportune time,” Cabinet Minister Ali Muhammad Sagar had informed the House.
Section 3 of the Ordinance provides death sentence for endangering life. Under the law, accused has no right to engage a lawyer unless permitted by the court.
The law also restricts media from publishing proceedings of the cases tried under it and violation of this clause can attract two years’ imprisonment or fine, or both.
The pioneer of the separatist movement in Jammu and Kashmir, Muhammad Maqbool Bhat, who was hanged in Tihar Jail in 1984, was charged under the Ordinance.