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Kashmir: Severe misuse of Public Safety Act to harass civilians

Srinagar: Physically challenged Tanveer Ahmad War was arrested in October last year and later booked under Public Safety Act (PSA) and lodged in Kotebalwal Jail Jammu. His order of detention was quashed by the High Court in December last year. Instead of releasing him, he was shifted to police station Baramulla where he was kept under unlawful detention, till he was again booked under PSA in May this year and shifted to Kotebalwal Jail, Jammu. This was stated here by Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association in a statement on June 19. The General Secretary of the Bar, Bashir Sidiq said that polio has affected War’s legs and he is unable to walk as he remains bedridden.

The PSA is an administrative detention law that allows for people to be arrested without charge or trial and a person can be detained for up to two years in jail without any trial. 

Assadullah Parray of Hajin has been in detention for over two years. His third PSA order was quashed by the High Court on March 24 this year but instead of releasing him, he was again detained under PSA on May 27 and lodged in Kotebalwal Jail, Jammu. Fifty-year-old Parray is father of six daughters and one of his daughters is suffering from cancer.

Eighty-year-old detenue Sheikh Mohammad Yousuf was arrested last year and detained under PSA. His first order of detention was quashed by the High Court in 2016 itself but instead of releasing him, he was detained again under PSA and lodged in district jail Kupwara in north Kashmir, said the statement, adding that his second order of detention was also quashed by the High Court but instead of releasing him, he has been booked under PSA third time and lodged in district jail Baramulla.

Sidiq added there is no reliable support for Yousuf’s family as his two sons have been killed by security forces. “There is no one to take care of his family that comprises of his wife and daughter-in-law who has two minor children,” Sidiq said.

Similarly, 75-year-old Ghulam Mohammad Khan Sopori was arrested in January this year, booked under PSA and lodged in Central Jail Kotebalwal, Jammu.

“Same is true about other detenues and under-trial prisoners who are lodged in different jails of the state and despite their orders of detention having been quashed by the High Court, they have been slapped with yet another order of detention, making their release impossible,” emphasized Sidiq.

The Bar Association also stated that the condition of Dukhtaran-e-Milat (DeM) chairperson Syedah Aasiyeh Andrabi and her close aide Fahmeeda Sofi has deteriorated on account of heat and suffocating atmosphere prevalent in the district jail Jammu. It was also pointed out that jail authorities were not allowing their family members to meet them. The High Court had directed the state administration to shift the duo to the Central Jail, Srinagar, the statement added.

A two member team of the Bar Association visited the Central Jail Kotebalwal in Jammu and then brought it to the notice of the Bar that those who were arrested in 2016 and were booked under PSA and who challenged their orders of detention before the High Court, which quashed their detention orders, have not been released so far on account of the fact that they have not been granted bail in the criminal cases registered against them in different police stations and unless they obtain bail from the courts, they won’t be released. “These Kashmiris have also approached the courts for their release on bail, but their bail applications have not been decided by the courts on account of the fact that either the police has not submitted its reports in those applications or else they have been again booked under PSA and unless they get their orders of detention quashed again, they won’t be granted bail.”

The Bar Association has appealed to the International Red Cross, UN Human Rights Council, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other human right organizations to send their teams to the jails of the state to take stock of the situation and also to suggest ways and means to provide relief to the aged and ailing detenues and under-trial prisoners who had been lodged in faraway jails of the state to make their meeting with their family members, friends and relatives impossible and to deprive them of receiving necessary medical aid and assistance through them.

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