Srinagar: As many as 662 persons were booked under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) in 2019, a majority of them after August 5 in Kashmir, a Srinagar-based rights body has said.
The fresh report titled by Annual Human Rights Review 2019 by Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) revealed that 412 persons in the region have been booked under PSA, often termed as a “lawless law”, post August 5. A majority of these persons continue to serve detention in jails across India, the rights group has claimed.
“As per data obtained by JKCCS and APDP through J&K High Court Registry, as many as 662 fresh Habeas Corpus petitions (challenging detentions under PSA) were registered in 2019 out of whom the majority (412) were registered post August 5,” the report said.
According to the report, those booked under the law are mostly youth, not older than 35 years of age.
“The maximum number of PSA cases have been found within the age group 18-35 years old, forming about 58.6% of the total number. It is only within this age bracket that incidences of being booked twice with PSA has been observed,” the report said.
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The report has also documented six killings at the hands of the government forces following the abrogation of the Article 370 on August 5. “While some of these killings were reported by international media, a few killings have not been reported,” the report said. The report also mentions six cases of enforced disappearances during the year 2019 from across the Kashmir valley including one from Srinagar’s Eidgah locality.
According to the 100 pages long report, the highest number of PSAs in 2019 have been reported in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district where 105 persons have been detained under the law, 62 of them after August 5. In North Kashmir’s Baramulla district 95 persons were reported to have been booked with 51 of them after August 5.
As per the data in the report, the highest number of persons booked after August 5 under the law belong to capital city Srinagar. Amongst the total of 87 persons detained, 70 have been booked after the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5 of which only 13 cases have been disposed off so far, and only 4 of them after August 5.
Of the total 635 cases, only 116 PSAs have been disposed off so far with only 14 cases since August 5.
The final list of total PSA cases was compiled by the rights group through information gathered from field work and RTIs in Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
The report also details arrests and detentions made earlier in 2019 in the wake of ban of outfits like Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and Jamaat-e-Islami. “Between January and June, at least 25 people were booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA), including but not limited to many of the prominent activists of JeI, as well as JKLF chief Yasin Malik,” the report said.
Nearly 37.4% of the detainees, the report claimed, in PSA related cases have been moved to jails in various states across India. “Except 4 cases of detention in District Jail Anantnag, all the other cases observed original detention in Central Jail Srinagar,” the rights group said.
Many of the PSA detainees, according to the report, have been shifted outside Jammu and Kashmir. The location of about 45% of the detainees, however, the rights body point out, remains “unknown”.
“Of the 26 PSA cases against people above 60 only 3 have been disposed off so far. Of the two unreleased juveniles, a 17-year-old is being held at District Jail Agra, and the other unreleased juvenile, 15 years old is being held in Central Jail Srinagar,” the report added.
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In response to a petition filed in Supreme Court of India regarding the arrests of minors in Kashmir, the Juvenile Justice Committee of Jammu and Kashmir High Court had said that ‘144 boys, including a 9 year old kid were arrested by state forces post Article 370 abrogation on August 5.’ However, the report stated that scores of minors have been arrested “illegally and without any charges”. The number of 144 detentions of minors submitted in Supreme Court by the Juvenile Justice Committee of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, the report said, is an “under-estimation of the actual figure of minors kept under detention, including illegal detention.”
“Many detentions of minors were not included in the JJC report, partly because the minors were reportedly detained for many days in the police stations without any formal charges brought against them,” the report said.