In what points to rampant and arbitrary use of the controversial Public Safety Act, as many as 582 persons have been booked under the law in the past 116 days in Kashmir, sources disclosed.
Authoritative sources told Greater Kashmir that 582 "civilians" have been booked under the PSA during the ongoing pro-freedom uprising that was triggered by the killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani by forces in south Kashmir's Anantnag district on July 8.
Of them, PSA warrants have been executed against 524 persons. They have been arrested and lodged in different jails.
During the ongoing uprising, the government has been accused by rights activists and the opposition of arbitrarily using the PSA against protesting youth and separatists to quell the protests.
On October 15, three prominent rights bodies-Amnesty International India, Human Rights Watch, and the International Commission of Jurists-urged the J&K Government to end the use of PSA to arbitrarily detain people, including children.
The State Government also came under sharp criticism from rights bodies for detaining "minors" under the law.
According to official sources, the North Kashmir's Baramulla district spread over two police districts, Baramulla and Sopore, leads the PSA tally, with 125 persons arrested under the law against 129 dossiers issued by the district administration till date.
It is followed by Pulwama (79-96), Srinagar (56-74), Anantnag (59-59) and Bandipora (46-57). The Central Kashmir's Ganderbal district is at bottom of the list with 19 PSA detentions taking place in the area which remained relatively peaceful during the ongoing agitation.
When contacted, Special DG (Coordination/ Law & Order), Dr. SP Vaid said the preventive detentions "have become a necessity to maintain law and order in Kashmir."
"It is necessary to apply the law against those who are pelting stones and leading the agitation," Vaid said.
"It is necessary to keep these elements behind the bars, otherwise they will ruin Kashmir."