(Ayesha Ifrahim 25-March-2011)
Recently, Amnesty International, in its report titled ‘A Lawless Law’ has termed the Public Safety Act (PSA) as a ‘lawless law’ and asked the state government to repeal it. Amnesty International flayed the authorities for using administrative detention as “a tool to hold hundreds of people each year without charge or trial in order to keep them out of circulation.” Also notes that the “state officials often implement the Public Safety Act in an arbitrative and abusive manner… Detaining authorities fail to provide material on which the grounds of detention are based to detainees or their lawyers. Detainees can approach (often successfully) to 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 further says that many of the people detained under the PSA without charge or trial for periods of two years or more may have committed no recognizably criminal offence at all. “Under the PSA, detention can be justified for undefined acts “prejudicial to the security of the State” and for extremely broadly defined acts “prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. The possibility of detention on such vague and broadly defined allegations violates the principle of legality required by Article 9(1) of the International Covenant on civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which India is a party.”
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 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.
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 that of external defence and as against militants, it is regularly and continuously used for domestic repression; and as 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, the result being terrorization of the people at large. 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. 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 that needs to be addressed, the sooner the better.