Srinagar: Days after the Jammu and Kashmir police said it would attach properties of people who will provide shelter to militants or their associates under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the police on Saturday clarified that it is aware of the difference between wilful harbouring of militants and the one done under stress.
The police, in a fresh statement, said that there has been “misinformation” regarding the information provided by Srinagar Police with respect to the initiation of attachment of properties used for the purpose of “terrorism.”
“The attachments being done are for properties where it has been proved beyond doubt that the house owner, the member had wilfully provided shelter, harboured terrorists, in most cases for days together and that it was not done under any duress whatsoever,” a police spokesperson said.
The police added that the attachment proceedings would come after investigation procedures, in any case, are at an “advanced” stage.
Srinagar Police has also urged people not to pay heed to “misinformation” regarding the decision, reiterated not to provide shelter or harbour terrorists in their homes or immovable properties, failing which strict action will be taken against them.
More than 200 encounters have been carried out in the valley of Kashmir in the past two years, most of which have occurred in residential houses or other properties. In most of these cases, the families have lost their homes to the gun battles, leaving only rubble and debris. Even as many have been able to reconstruct their homes, some continue to struggle with shelter.
The decision to attach properties is seen as a counter-measure to discourage people from allowing militants to take shelter inside residences. But, many of these families have argued that it is difficult to resist armed groups in this situation.
The police earlier on Thursday issued a statement stating that they have initiated the process for attachment of some immovable properties which, they claimed, have been used for militancy as per section 2(g) and 25 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
The J&K Police, in its latest statement, however, said that the decision is being misused by many to spread “misinformation.”
“Out of ignorance, Some persons are trying to portray it as some kind of forced enforcement, but it is a fact that Sections 2(g) and 25 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 have been in vogue for decades, and these are not some recent additions as claimed by some rumour-mongers,” the police said.
Pertinently, law enforcement agencies like the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) have seized multiple assets belonging to Hizbul Mujahideen operatives and Hurriyat leaders since 2019.
“The decision regarding enforcement of these sections of law is due to the fact that many supporters of terrorism are wilfully providing harbour and safe havens to terrorists who conduct attacks on civilians and security forces in Srinagar City,” the statement read.
If a militant enters any house or other structure forcefully, the police said, the house owner or any other member claiming duress should timely inform the authorities.
“As many provisions for hiding identity of such informant are available under law. The onus always lies on the house owner/member to prove duress by informing the authorities well in time that there is/was the forceful entry of terrorists into their house,” the police said.