PSA — a lawless law in IOK
Recently, Amnesty International (Al) released a report titled “PSA Still a Lawless Law” as a follow up of its earlier report of March 2011. The present report points out that despite pressure on Indian government, the Public Safety Act (PSA) has not been reviewed/amended and people of Jammu and Kashmir are being subjected to repression and oppression by Indian LEAs and Security Forces. The report further noted: “The state officials often implement the Public Safety Act in an arbitrative and abusive manner… Detaining authorities fail to provide material to detainees or their lawyers on which the grounds of detention are based. Detainees can approach the High Court to quash their order of detention, but Amnesty International’s research clearly shows that the J&K authorities consistently thwart the High Court’s orders for release by re-detaining individuals under criminal charges and or issuing further detention orders, thereby securing their continued incarceration.”
Amnesty International in its report further stated that many of the people detained under the PSA without charge or trial for periods of two years or more might have committed no cognizable criminal offence at all. Human right violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) by Indian Law Enforcing Agencies (LEAs) and Security Forces continue unabated as Public Safety Act (PSA) empowers the State authorities to detain any individual in IOK on charges of acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order. Under section 8 of the SPA, a Divisional Commissioner or a District Magistrate may issue a detention order to prevent any person from acting in a manner prejudicial to the security of the State or the maintenance of public order. It is unfortunate that more than six decades have elapsed but international community shows indifference towards sufferings of Kashmiris and do not impress upon India to implement the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions that bestow on Kashmiris the right to self-determination.
The Muslim majority population in IOK suffers from the repressive acts of the Security Forces. J&K and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, and Armed Forces (J&K) Special Powers Act (AFSPA-1990), empowered Security Forces personnel to shoot suspected lawbreakers involved in disturbing the peace, harboring militants and arms. Indian government pays no heed to international HR organizations and has always disregarded their recommendations to stop HR violations in the valley. Ironically, human rights are violated on large scale in the so-called world’s largest democracy. To crush the Kashmiri Liberation movement, India has employed various techniques including black laws. Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act 1990 (TADA) and Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1990, (AFSPA) are enforced in Kashmir despite the fact that they contravene the Indian Constitution and international law. These laws violate the basic human rights such as right to life, the right to liberty and security of the person and the right to remedy.
The Armed Forces (Jammu & Kashmir) Special Powers enforced on 10 September, 1990 authorized even a non-commissioned officer to search any place, fire at any person (and kill), or arrest on the basis of suspicion. TADA gives security forces and armed forces special powers for unauthorized administrative detention without formal charges or trial for up to one year. Under POTA, any person can be put into prison for not disclosing the information that can prevent an act of terrorism. In Kashmir, there is one soldier for every twenty people. There are 5,00,000 armed troops, 3,00,000 army men, 70,000 Rashtriya Rifle soldiers, 1,30,000 central police forces as against the total population of 1 crore. In the past 20 years, a generation of Kashmiris has grown with soldiers at every street corner “often even in their living rooms”. The grievance of the people is that instead of confining the role of the military and security forces to external defence, they are regularly and continuously used for domestic repression.
Professor Hameeda Nayeem says : “That has transformed the Indian state into a source of deep insecurity for the citizens – as instruments of the persistent violator of human rights and converted the Indian military into an illegitimate agent of repression. Both in turn seriously undermine the democratic credential of the state.” This excessive militarization has resulted in wiping out all space for the exercise of democratic rights by the people. This has resulted in ruthless action on all dissent, and at the same time the military indulges in acts of violence against people with impunity. Human rights organizations are routinely denied permission to investigate in a free manner. Media-men are being attacked and arrested. Humanitarian relief is limited as external agencies are not being allowed to provide medical assistance and other relief materials. Many cases of human rights violation stem from abuse of power under repressive laws and police/army brutality unleashed against the Kashmiri people.
Innocent Kashmiri masses, especially the youth are undergoing tremendous psychological trauma due to continued repressive and suppressive policies of regime in IHK. In June 2012 alone, eleven youth committed suicide as they could not further bear environmental distress prevailing in IHK, as the events like unwarranted arrests, killings, arson, torture and molestation by Indian security forces is a matter of routine there. Government functionaries of the state backed by Indian government are involved in human right violations in IHK and encourage the security forces to use coercive measures to suppress the people. Last year, Indian Supreme Court instead of convicting the soldiers involved in killing of a 12 year old boy asked the Army to carry out appropriate action against the culprits. It meant that the court shirked its responsibility, and as a result justice was delayed. Having that said, it is the responsibility of the United Nations to implement its resolutions bestowing the right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir.