Ambreen Bhat, Mohammad irfan bhat, cleric psa,
Screengrab from Mohammad Irfan Bhat's YouTube channel.

Srinagar: The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, in Srinagar, has quashed the preventive detention order of a cleric, who was detained over a video on the late actress Ambreen Bhat, The Kashmir Walla can report.

Mohammad Irfan Bhat, a resident of Baramulla district, was detained under the Public Safety Act–a stringent law that allows authorities to detain a person for over two years without a trial–after he uploaded a video accusing the actress of spreading “immodesty”.

Ambreen Bhat was shot dead in a militant attack at her home in Chadoora, Budgam, on 25 May 2022. Three militants affiliated with Lashkar-e-Toiba were behind the killing, the police had said.

In an order, seen by The Kashmir Walla, Hon’ble Judge Sanjay Dhar noted that the grounds of detention and the dossier, “go on to show that there has been non-application of mind on the part of the Detaining Authority.”

In the order, the judge underlined the similarity of contents of grounds of detention and police dossier in the case that “clearly exhibits mechanical functioning of the detaining authority”. 

The district magistrate Budgam had taken note in Bhat’s dossier that the video on his YouTube channel has shamed the activities of the slain artist. The order was executed on 2 June 2022.

The video remains accessible on his Youtube page–with over 42,000 subscribers–and has been viewed more than 317,000 times.

While quashing the PSA order, the court noted that the petitioner, Bhat, was not informed by the state about his right to make a representation to the detaining authority. And the government was “guilty of committing infraction of a Constitutional right guaranteed to the petitioner under Article 22(5) of the Constitution and the statutory right guaranteed to him under Section 13 of the J&K Public Safety Act.” 

The Jammu and Kashmir Police had booked Bhat under the Public Safety Act for “spreading hate and justifying the killing” of actress Bhat, an official statement from the department said.

“The act of uploading such a hateful video, justifying the killing of artiste Ambreen Bhat on YouTube channel has not only caused alarm and fear amongst the class of people performing art, singing, dancing, etc., but also the families associated with them,” the police had said in the statement. “Moreover, this act also amounts to supporting terrorist acts, besides such videos have a tendency to make more people vulnerable to such attacks.”

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