Public Safety Act – ‘A Lawless Law’
A briefing titled ‘PSA-Still a Lawless Law’ released by Amnesty International shows that despite legal and policy developments in Indian Occupied Kashmir, authorities still use the Public Safety Act (PSA) to facilitate human rights violation in IOK. They are still using the Public Safety Act (PSA) to detain individuals without charge or trial in violation of their basic human rights. Of late, Amnesty International released a report in 2011 documenting how the PSA violates human rights. Not much appears to have changed in 2012. The PSA provides for arbitrary detention, in violation of the right to liberty which India is obliged to respect under international human rights treaties. Further violations facilitated by the PSA include ‘revolving door detentions’, ill treatment in detention, the denial of medical care to detainees, and lack of reparations for victims. Amnesty International also found that PSA detention orders were still being used against children despite it now being prohibited.
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 contravenes 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.
The phenomenon of organized fake encounters, which started with the infamous Operation Tiger by the security personnel in IHK, is still persisting today and its victims are mostly teenagers. It is an Indian strategy of annihilating the entire Kashmiri race. Indian army is continuously violating the human rights with complete impunity, thanks to black laws, in Jammu and Kashmir. They victimize Kashmiris without any discrimination to gender, age, social and economic status. The High Court Bar Association of Occupied Kashmir maintained that more than 100,000 Kashmiris had been killed by Indian troops in the last two decades, while 10,000 persons were disappeared in custody. It said that more than 300,000 Kashmiri’s were tortured in jails and interrogation centers. Women have been the worst victims of military violence during the last two decades. Molestation of Kashmiri women by BSF officers and jawans has become a common practice in IHK. According to a recent report of the Research Section of Kashmir Media Service in occupied Kashmir, 2278 women were among 93089 civilians martyred during the last 20 years of unabated Indian State terrorism. Indian troops molested 9894 women during this period and the State terrorism rendered 22708 women widowed. The report maintained that Kashmiri women had been worst sufferers of the harrowing conflict since 1989. The report deplored that the troops had been routinely involved in sexual harassment of Kashmiri women to suppress the ongoing liberation struggle.
Director Amnesty International India, Ananth Guruswamy said, “The J&K authorities continue to use PSA to circumvent the rule of law and the criminal justice system. They resort to PSA detentions instead of charging and trying persons suspected of offences in court.” Even the Chief of Police in Kashmir has acknowledged that around 15,600 people were detained under the PSA without charge or trial in the last two decades. Detainees include political leaders and activists, suspected members or supporters of armed opposition groups, lawyers, journalists and protesters, including children. Many cases of human rights violation stem from abuse of power under repressive laws and police/army brutality unleashed against the Kashmiri people. They are taken into custody for acts that are legitimized by international human rights standards of free speech, freedom of association and assembly, and freedom of the press. The Indian government’s failure to account for these abuses and to take rigorous action against its forces responsible for murder, rape and torture speaks volumes of its fake posture of secular and democratic state. These atrocities are true reflection of its policy of condoning human rights violations by the Indian security forces in Kashmir.