In a Bollywood movie, veteran actor Qadir Khan effectively played leader of the opposition. One day when a hurricane destroyed property and claimed thousands of lives in his state, he issued two statements. In one statement he criticized the Chief Minister for undertaking an aerial survey of the affected area. In his statement he said: "The people are dying and the Chief Minister is having a joy ride in a plane." In the second statement he condemned him for not flying to the affected area. "The poor people of the state have paid taxes to buy a plane for the Chief Minister. But he does not use it even in an emergency like this." Khan directed his secretary to issue the first statement incase the Chief Minister chose to fly to the area. The secretary was further directed to issue the second statement if he (Chief Minister) chose not to fly to the affected area. This is exactly how the authorities invoke PSA in this state.
This legislation is recklessly and indiscriminately invoked to crush dissent. The high court has time and again taken exception to the grounds of detention served upon innocent persons under this Act and accused the district magistrates of non-application of mind while invoking the provisions of this law.
A few years ago, the Muslim League Leader, Masrat Alam was arrested and detained under PSA for creating dissension in Hurriyat ranks. Nobody asked the district magistrate why he was interested in unity of the conglomerate. Strangely enough, Shabir Ahmad Shah was taken into custody for uniting the Hurriyat Conference. The district magistrate, Srinagar while serving the grounds of detention on the veteran leader stated: "You emerged as leading voice in `secessionist circles' and played a vital role in the unification of the two factions of the Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani." The grounds further say: " You got affiliated with Mirwaiz faction of the conglomerate but at the same time maintained your close contact with Syed Ali Shah Geelani." Strange are the ways of the state government. Typical Qadir Khan style!
When Mader-e-Meherbaan (Wife of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah) passed away, some people called on the Sheikh family to condole her demise. The then Hurriyat Chairman was one of them. His visit to the Sheikh family evoked severe reaction from Islamic Students League (ISL) patron, Shakeel Ahmad Bakshi. In a statement issued to the press, Bakshi criticized the chairman for sympathizing with the `killers'. The police submitted a dossier and the concerned district magistrate invoked PSA to detain Bakshi for two years in Jodhpur jail. Bakshi had committed no offence.
In November 2007 a `deceased' appeared in the court to rescue his `assassin'. He could not identify the accused (assassin) who according to the police had killed him on February 10, 2007. The court while considering the statement of the `deceased' granted bail to the `assassin'.
The bail order was served upon central jail authorities for compliance. The jail authorities honoured the court orders but the CIK (Counter Intelligence Kashmir) sleuths picked him up and detained him in Joint Interrogation Centre (JIC) for a crime he never committed. He was shifted to Udhampur jail.
On the same day (November 19), the district magistrate, Ganderbal passed an order No: DMS/PSA/07/11 detaining the accused under public safety act (PSA). However, the district magistrate realised his mistake on November 23 when accused's brother, Mushtaq Ahmad Ganie filed a representation seeking revocation of the detention order.
On November 28, the district magistrate wrote a letter No DC/GB1/PS/Misc-7/919-921 to the concerned police superintendent (SP). The letter reads: "Please refer grounds of detention communicated by you to this office in respect of Shri Muzafar Ahmad Ganie s/o Ghulam Nabi Ganie r/o Barwalla, Tehsil Kangan district Ganderbal vide your No Pross/Dossier/07/22300-302 dated October 26, 2007. Among other things you have mentioned that one Shabir Ahmad Bhat s/o Ghulam Muhammad Bhat r/o Kachnambal, Kangan who was working as follower in Jammu Kashmir police got killed in pursuance of the plan worked out by Shri Muzaffar Ahmad Ganie s/o Ghulam Nabi Ganie r/o Barwalla tehsil Kangan district Ganderbal. Today on November 28, it was reliably learnt that Shri Shabir Ahmad Bhat has not been killed and instead he is working under your administrative control. Please have the same verified so that the detention order passed by the undersigned vide Order No: DMG/PSA/07/11 dated November 19, 2007 under Jammu Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 is amended under intimation to higher authorities accordingly." (SIC).
It seems the district magistrates have no choice but to issue a warrant under the PSA on the dossier furnished by the concerned SP. Never have the district magistrates sought clarifications from the concerned police superintendents or refused to invoke the PSA on flimsy grounds the former district magistrate of Srinagar, Shalinder Kumar being the only honourable exception.