It has been two years since the mass protests of 2010, during which more than 120 people; mostly teenagers were killed by government forces. Apart from killings and fatal injuries to people, the continuous arrests never stopped. Thousands of people, which include minors, were arrested by state police every now and then. The ready-to-put-in-jail command, which comes handy for state, has been the draconian law, Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety act (1978) (PSA).
This act doesn’t keep anybody safe in Kashmir. It only imprisons them in dreaded jails of the state. Several people, from all over the valley, were, and are even today, arrested and slapped with the PSA. Minors were arrested and put in jail under the PSA. Age doesn’t matter in Kashmir, for authorities, when it comes to law. From 10 year old children to 80 year old aged people, anyone can be jailed for raising his/her voice against the state. Any of them can be put in prison without any trial under this law.
This year, the state government itself accepted the fact that in only seven districts of Kashmir valley 3400 people were arrested under the PSA in last two decades. In March 2011, the Amnesty International, an international watchdog, released a report on the law, ‘A ‘Lawless Law’: Detentions under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act’ in which it found out that the estimates of the number of detained under the PSA over the past two decades range from 8,000-20,000, with 322 reportedly held from January to September 2010 alone.
The law has been used by state to block every dissent voice coming out from the valley. It has become a threat to normal life of general public. People who are released after spending months or years in jail face difficulties to start their normal life again. In most of the PSA cases, arrested persons are found out to be innocent and courts quash their detention orders. At times state police arrests them again even when the court quashes their PSA and that starts a new jail period.
This year, the state assembly passed the amendment of the act as per which, “no person below the age of 18 can be arrested”. Further, the amended law now requires the detaining authority to give the reason for any detention in the language of the person being held. The jail term is six months but authorities can extend the detention every six months.
The amendment does no good to the people. It is used again and again to book people and make them silent. Banning media, keeping watch on social networking sites, indirectly threatening alternative media outlets are a few exercises which state does to stop any dissent voice. Dissent in Kashmir means the truth of ground situation. But world is fed what the people in power want them to feed with. Propagandists are flourishing, arrests continue, torture continues, killings have never stopped and every government claims the state is peaceful.
This draconian law should not be amended but revoked completely. Not only PSA but Armed Forces Special Powers act too. If there have been no protests, as per the government, since 2010, then why do they need such a law which terrorizes the inhabitants of the state?