At least 105 persons have been booked under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA) in Kashmir out of which 31 persons are lodged in Kashmir jails since 2014.
According to the data maintained by police, the 105 persons include militants, Over Ground Workers (OGWs), stone pelters, All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) members, timber smugglers and drug peddlers.
At least 18 civilians have been booked under PSA for stone pelting during the incidents of unrest in the Valley while 14 separatists were also booked under the provisions of the Act from January 2014 to mid-August 2015.
Of these, the persons have been booked from Srinagar, Budgam, Ganderbal, Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam, Awantipora, Shopian, Baramulla, Kupwara, Handwara, Bandipora and Sopore.
The official document reveals that the civilians whom they have booked as stone pelters were affiliated with Hurriyat (G). “They had indulged in stone-pelting at police and paramilitary CRPF besides creating law and order problems as well as instigating others to join the protests across the valley.”
Recently, a report prepared by Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) pointed out that more than 700 minors were arrested under PSA since March 2013.
According to the report, these minors have been booked under the PSA in clear violation of the amendment on 28th March 2013 bringing into effect the Jammu & Kashmir (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2013 which bars detention of persons under the age of 18 years.
The report titled ‘Awareness on Juvenile Justice’ also highlighted lack of measures including absence of juvenile justice board and child welfare committees in Kashmir, which it said was a clear violation of the Juvenile Justice Act.
The reports also denounced the treatment and trial of juveniles, which it said involved beating and incarceration against numerous decisions of the court.
In 2011, the international human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, termed PSA a ‘lawless law’, documenting how the authorities were misusing it to detain people for years without trial “depriving them of basic human rights”.
It said J&K authorities were using PSA detentions as a “revolving door” to keep locked up and out of circulation, those people who cannot or would not be convicted through proper legal channels.
Following mounting pressure, the state government amended the law for the first time since its implementation in 1978, reducing detention period under PSA.
Jammu and Kashmir home department has revealed that 16329 PSAs have been slapped from 1988, the year when armed struggle started in Kashmir Valley, to July 2014.
Earlier, in an official reply to an RTI application filed by Abdul Manan Bukhari, legal cell head of Hurriyat (M), state home department has maintained that out of 16329 PSA cases 249 persons have been bracketed under PSA under same time since 1988 while during the same time 707 FIRs were filed against juveniles.
Since 1988, 230 persons have been detained in north Kashmir’s Sopore under PSA while in the same town 221 persons have been booked for single time while as nine youth were booked under PSA for two times.
The information provided by the state home department reveals that only one minor has been booked in past 25 years in Sopore. The minor was booked under Section 302, 34 of RPS vide FIR number 109/2013 in police station Tarzoo Sopore.